Over 100 Dead as Cyclone Freddy Moves Inland Towards Malawi

Mozambique and Malawi on Monday were counting the cost of Cyclone Freddy, which killed more than 100 people, injured scores and left a trail of destruction as it ripped through southern Africa for the second time in a month over the weekend.

Nearly 100 people have died in Malawi’s southern districts after Freddy made a rare return to the region with torrential rains that triggered flooding, the country’s disaster agency said Monday.

“The death toll, including in other districts that have been hit in the southern region, has risen to 99… but we expect the number to rise,” Charles Kalemba, commissioner at the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, told a press conference Monday.

Kalemba said 85 deaths were recorded in the commercial hub of Blantyre and more than 10,000 people have been affected by the storm.

The central hospital in Blantyre had received at least 60 bodies by early afternoon, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) country director Marion Pechayre told Reuters by telephone, adding that some 200 injured were being treated in the hospital.

The injuries were from falling trees, landslides and flash floods, she said. “A lot of [houses] are mud houses with tin roofs, so the roofs fall on people’s heads,” she added.

President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster for the southern region of Malawi.

The impact of the cyclone has piled more woes on a country grappling with the deadliest cholera outbreak in its history, which has killed over 1,600 people since last year.

“Severe weather events such as these are likely to exacerbate the spread of water-borne diseases like cholera,” the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF warned in a statement.

Freddy is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere and could be the longest-lasting tropical cyclone, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

It pummeled central Mozambique on Saturday, ripping roofs off buildings and bringing widespread flooding around the port of Quelimane, before moving inland towards Malawi with torrential rains that caused landslides.

The full extent of the damage and loss of life in Mozambique in particular is not yet clear, as the power supply and phone signals were cut off in some parts of the affected area.

The total number killed by storm Freddy in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar since it first made landfall last month is now around 136.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

Source: VOA

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