Cyclone Freddy: Over 400 dead in Southern Africa, Malawi hurt

Cyclone Freddy, with its extraordinary longevity, killed more than 400 people in southern Africa, most of them in Malawi, where the toll worsened on Thursday evening, with hopes of finding survivors growing increasingly slim Is.

Freddie struck the region twice in a matter of weeks, killing 73 in Mozambique, 17 in Madagascar and now 326 in Malawi, the most according to a latest national report announced in the evening by the landlocked country’s president. Poor of the world.

“Since yesterday (Wednesday), the death toll from this disaster has risen from 225 to 326, the number of displaced people has more than doubled” in Malawi to over 183,000, traveling to the economic capital Blantyre (south) Lazar Chakvera said. The epicenter of bad weather.

Formed in early February off Australia, the cyclone made an unprecedented crossing of over 8,000 km from east to west in the Indian Ocean on the verge of being classified as the longest on record.

It first made landfall on the east coast of Madagascar on 21 February, killing 7 people. The event, which lasted for more than 35 days, caused havoc in Mozambique, killing 10 people.

It then turned back in early March and hit Madagascar a second time, killing 10 more people there. He also returned to Mozambique, where he still killed 63 people.

But it was in Malawi, where rainfall levels had only increased so far and where the cyclone finally made landfall on Monday, Freddy wreaked the most havoc. Weakened but still with gusts reaching 200 km/h upon its return, the event brought torrential rains that caused massive flooding and landslides.

The densely populated area of ​​Blantyre has been devastated. A state of disaster and two weeks of national mourning have been declared. Police and army were deployed.

– buried in the mud –

Neighbors and rescue workers continued to search the soil on Thursday in hopes of finding survivors. But rescue operations often result in a macabre collection of decomposing bodies.

In the town of Manje, near Blantyre, residents called for help. AFP claims hundreds of bodies are buried there. Foul odors and air bubbles rising to the surface from waterlogged soil raise little suspicion.

In front of a house in poor condition and covered with mud, a dozen residents and five soldiers begin to dig up the first body of a man.

“I hope they get more bodies so they can be buried and rest in peace,” said Rose Phiri, an elderly woman in the area.

In the midst of the desolation, sometimes hope dawns: the day before, MADAD miraculously saved a child. 13-year-old Promise was stuck in the mud for three days in her dilapidated house.

Flooding caused by the extraordinary tropical cyclone Freddy (AFP – Paz Pizarro)

President Chakwera reiterated his call for help on Thursday, saying “the needs are huge”. The head of state had called a day earlier for international aid to deal with the immense destruction, describing the disaster as a “national tragedy”.

In neighboring Mozambique, President Filipe Nyusi, who on Wednesday visited the worst-affected province, Zambezia (centre), bordering Malawi, also called for an “emergency” mobilization of national and international aid to “repair destroyed infrastructure”. Did.

Tropical storms and cyclones appear several times a year in the southwest Indian Ocean during the hurricane season that runs from November to April.

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