Status: 03/15/2023 9:56 pm
Cyclone Freddy killed 300 people in Madagascar, Malawi and Mozambique, and the tropical storm left tens of thousands homeless. Aid agencies are now warning of famine.
According to officials, the unusually long-lasting tropical storm “Freddie” killed a total of 300 people in three countries in Southeast Africa – Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar. Hardest hit was impoverished Malawi, where the disaster management agency recorded 225 deaths.
According to official figures, nearly 800 people have been injured in the country due to heavy rains, floods and landslides. However, the numbers may be much higher as communication is currently severely restricted due to infrastructure damage.
More than 20,000 people are homeless
Rescue workers continued to search for people trapped in landslides or cut off from the outside world by the floods. The police and army took part in the operations in the East African country. “Flooding is the biggest problem,” said Felix Washon, spokesman for the Malawi Red Cross. At least 37 people are still missing, according to officials.
According to the Civil Defense, more than 20,000 people have been left homeless. Thousands of people have been sheltered in makeshift camps, the authority said. Some of them took refuge in churches and schools.
The largest year-long cholera outbreak in Malawi’s history has yet to be tackled, and aid agencies fear a sharp rise in cholera cases, particularly in the south.
A disaster has been declared in the south
The government has declared a state of emergency for southern Malawi, the worst-hit region. “The devastation is enormous,” said Vasan, a spokesman for the Red Cross. Reaching the stranded is a major challenge due to collapsed bridges and rising water levels. “We saw people in trees, on rooftops and on high ground,” Vasan said.
An injured man is carried across a makeshift bridge in Blantyre, Malawi.
Died in Mozambique and Madagascar
At least 67 people have died in Mozambique, according to President Philippe Nyusi. Nyusi said during a briefing on Wednesday that the number could double as many affected areas are still inaccessible. At least 17 people were killed in the island nation of Madagascar.
“Freddie” has been rocking Malawi for years
A cyclone has wreaked havoc in Southeast Africa for the second time in a month since Friday evening. According to Welthungerhilfe, particularly poor Malawi is years behind in development due to cyclones. The country is highly dependent on agriculture and rainfall and is therefore particularly susceptible to extreme weather, explained the organization’s program manager in the southeastern African country, Claudia Block. “Floods have wiped out entire crops,” he said. Affected people have lost everything.
The project manager explained that even before the storm, the food situation was very tense. Nearly 7.3 million people are unable to feed themselves adequately, and nearly 40 percent of children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. “The country is currently in what is known as the ‘lean period,’ the lean period between harvests,” Black said. “Families are living from hand to mouth at this time, eagerly awaiting the next harvest this month.”
Many houses were destroyed by the cyclone. People are trying to save some parts of the buildings.
Longest hurricane on record
A month ago, on February 6, a tropical storm formed off the northwest coast of Australia and was declared a hurricane. After traversing the entire southern Indian Ocean, “Freddy” first made landfall in Madagascar on February 21. The storm moved from there to Mozambique and returned with even more power and rain in a rare “loop” track in the Indian Ocean. On March 11, he reached Mozambique and Malawi for the second time.
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the storm, which has raged for more than a month, will be the longest-lasting cyclone since weather records began. According to forecasts, the storm is likely to move back out to sea in a week and weaken. South Africa is currently in cyclone season, which brings rain and severe storms in March or April.
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