Cyclone Freddy’s death toll in Malawi and Mozambique exceeds 200
The death toll in Malawi and Mozambique from record-long Cyclone Freddie, which hit southern Africa twice in three weeks, topped 200 on Tuesday as floods and landslides caused it.
Rescuers said they feared more casualties as hopes of finding survivors in devastated towns and villages waned.
Freddie, which followed a looping path rarely observed by meteorologists, made landfall in Mozambique for the second time over the weekend, then moved south into neighboring Malawi on Monday morning.
Officials in Mozambique reported 20 dead and 24 injured, while Malawi, the country that has so far paid the heaviest price for a tropical cyclone withdrawal, now has at least “190 dead, 584 injured and 37 are missing.” The National Disaster Management Office said in a statement.
A state of disaster has been declared in the region of Blantyre, the financial capital and epicenter of the severe weather.
The wind stopped but the rain continued. The constructions made of bricks and mud did not resist.
“We are helpless and nobody is here to help us,” said 80-year-old John Wittman, soaking wet despite his raincoat and woolen hat. By sudden rising water.
Residents say they believe dozens of bodies are still there, buried in the mud. Excavators have been installed at some places. The day before, families and rescue workers searched the ground with their bare hands.
– Overwhelmed hospital –
Doctors Without Borders, which was on the scene, warned in a press release that the hospital in the area was “overwhelmed by the flood of wounded”. “220 people came to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital alone, including 42 adults and 43 children, who were pronounced dead on arrival.”
NGOs fear a spurt in cholera cases especially due to lack of vaccines in the country, which is already fighting against the epidemic of this deadliest infectious disease.
A few kilometers away, in Chimkwankhunda, Steve Pangnani Matera shows a huge field of dripping mud: “There were a lot of houses here, all gone,” he told AFP, sheltering under a flimsy canopy.
Under an overcast sky, some try to cross the maroon water gushing over the hillside on improvised bridges made of planks thrown between the scree.
About 59,000 people have been affected and about 20,000 displaced in the country, who have been placed in immediate schools or churches.
President Lazarus Chakwera, who returned from Qatar on Tuesday, appreciated the efforts of the volunteers. “We have come to a devastated country,” he said in a statement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement he was “saddened by the loss of life”.
Freddie first hit southern Africa in late February. After an unprecedented crossing of over 10,000 km from east to west across the Indian Ocean, it made landfall in Madagascar before hitting Mozambique. The death toll then was 17.
Recharging in intensity and humidity over warm seas, Freddy then turned around, returning two weeks later to swoop down on southern Africa. He killed 10 people last week while returning to Madagascar.
Meteo-France director for the Indian Ocean told AFP Emmanuel Clopet that the cyclone “is slightly less intense than at its peak in the middle of the Indian Ocean, but still with strong winds and gusts of up to 200 km/h”. Returned
“It’s very rare for these cyclones to recur,” says climatologist Colleen Vogel of the South African University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, raising the question of climate change.
Freddie formed off Australia in early February and has been wreaking havoc in the Indian Ocean for 36 days. Tropical Cyclone John lasted for 31 days in 1994.
The southwest Indian Ocean is crossed by tropical storms and cyclones several times a year during the hurricane season which extends from November to April.