Nairobi, Jan 29 (IANS/EFE) At least 176 people have died and 200,000 more have fled their homes because of the floods which have swept through Malawi in recent weeks, media reported citing a government report released Thursday.

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services has warned that rain will continue to affect the entire country especially in the south, where floods have already caused dozens of deaths and widespread damage.

The rain is accompanied by strong winds, and new flood surges are expected in several parts of the country, especially in the Lower Shire Valley on the border with Mozambique, the department warned.

Authorities said emergency services were kept on high alert and several army helicopters, supported by two other aircraft from South Africa, were on 24-hour standby.

The consequences of the heavy rains have been devastating.

The country’s President, Peter Mutharika, estimated that Malawi would need at least $81 million to get under way with the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and to relocate 200,000 homeless people.

Tens of thousands of children in Malawi could not attend class because 243 schools were damaged by the flood waters and 181 other schools are in use as makeshift temporary shelters, according to the government.