Cyclone Freddy returns: over 100 dead in Malawi and Mozambique

Cyclone Freddy, “out of the ordinary” as it made a loop rarely seen by meteorologists, killed more than 100 people in Malawi and Mozambique as it returned to southern Africa, officials said Monday.

At least 99 people were killed and dozens more injured after overnight landslides swept away homes and buried residents in Malawi. The poor country’s disaster management agency said it expected an even heavier toll.

At least 10 people were killed and 14 others were injured in neighboring Mozambique, according to local officials.

The area of ​​Blantyre, Malawi’s economic capital, where residents searched for survivors in the mud with their bare hands or shovels, recorded 85 deaths alone.

A resident of the mud-soaked Chilobwe township who was helping with relief efforts said government relief workers were slow to arrive. “People are overwhelmed. The situation is very difficult,” said Chirwa, another intern. He said rescuers lacked adequate equipment.

Malawi has declared a state of disaster in several southern parts of the country, including Blantyre. According to the United Nations, more than 11,000 people have been displaced by the storm in the country.

Government worker Richard Duva, 38, told AFP the water suddenly rose in the middle of the night. At 03:00 GMT (05:00 local time), he received a phone call: five members of his family living in the township had been taken away.

– “Not found” –

“We have just found the body of a small boy, but the rest are still missing,” he said. He has to go to the morgue. Bodies have been found below, it could be his relatives.

The national carrier, Malawi Airlines, has canceled all flights to Blantyre until further notice.

Returning to the region last week after an unprecedented loop trajectory, it first touched down over Madagascar for the second time in two weeks, killing 10 people.

He then came back to attack Mozambique on Saturday night.

The port city of Quelimen (centre), about 40 km from where the cyclone made landfall, is still largely isolated from the rest of the world, according to UNICEF spokesman Guy Taylor. Accessed the site by telephone.

Several people are missing, officials said. And the disaster appears to be greater than feared: “Emergency shelter centers have been overwhelmed as the number of people affected has exceeded expectations,” Louisa Meke, chair of the national disaster management office, told AFP.

– Floods –

The cyclone which was accompanied by strong winds and torrential rain then moved towards neighboring Malawi overnight from Sunday to Monday, causing flash floods and major landslides. Schools in one of the world’s poorest countries have been closed in much of the south.

Freddie is expected to move back out to sea and weaken during the week, according to forecasts.

The phenomenon, which originated from Australia and reached hurricane stage in early February, has been raging in the Indian Ocean for 35 days. It passed over the French island of Réunion and Mauritius, causing limited damage there.

Several storms or cyclones pass through the southwest Indian Ocean each year during the hurricane season, which runs from November to April.


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