Wailing, confusion, sorrow and destitution engulfed traders at Mataifa Market in Mzuzu as they watched their shops razed by fire on Friday.
The fire started at around 10 pm on Thursday and continued to Friday morning.
One of the victims, a widow, Idah Mkandawire said her restaurant was gutted down. She cried at her loss, which fended for her children and grandchildren.
Francis Omar, another restaurant owner was wary of repaying the loan he took to finance his business at the loss of his business.
Other people panicked to save their merchandise, but for those whose shops caught fire, there was little they could do as the fire had done much damage.
Thieves also aggravated the traders’ pain as they broke into shops to loot various items.
Mzuzu Police officer in charge John Nyondo said the fire is suspected to have started in one of the electronics shops where an appliance was left on.
He also bemoaned looting tendencies in such events and said if police had not rushed to the scene; a number of shops would have been looted.