Cyclone Freddy: Total 463 killed in Malawi, half a million people affected

Cyclone Freddie has killed 463 people in southern Africa, including 360 in Malawi, among the poorest in the country, according to a latest report on Friday evening, where the United Nations has counted more than half a million people affected by the disaster. There is a possibility of humanitarian crisis as well.

President Lazarus Chakwera said, “We expect the damage and death toll to rise further as more areas become accessible.”

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in its last update specified that the cyclone “diminished into a low pressure area and dissipated completely on 15 March”.

But in six days, the equivalent of six months of rain fell on southern Malawi, the epicenter of the bad weather, causing deadly flooding and landslides.

According to Ocha, “more than 500,000 people have been affected since March 12.” About 183,000 people have lost their homes out of a population of about 20 million.

More than 300 emergency shelters have been opened, but the destruction is still limiting access for humanitarian teams and making aid difficult, the World Food Program (WFP) said in a statement.

“It’s all gone, the potatoes, the maize,” Lovness Makhla, a mother of four, told AFP. The harvest was to be done in a month. Picking up the remains of her home, pieces of sheet metal and bricks, she admits she doesn’t know “how we’re going to get through the years without a home and without food”.

The unusually long-lived Cyclone Freddy killed 86 people in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar.

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

It followed a looping path rarely recorded by meteorologists, first hitting Madagascar and Mozambique in late February, then these two countries and Malawi in March.

In the latter country, more than 280,000 children are in need of urgent humanitarian aid, UNICEF spokeswoman Phangma Fudong told AFP.

“There is a risk that the current cholera epidemic will worsen, with children being most vulnerable to this crisis,” she said.

A state of disaster has been declared in the country, the police and the army are deployed. President Chakwera appealed for international aid.

“The country will need significant support,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP director in Malawi, pledging mobilization as soon as possible.

South Africa is helping the rescue teams, the United Kingdom should also send additional forces. Neighboring Zambia has sent food and tents, according to a statement by the defense minister.

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