Cyclone Freddy Kills over 100

Cyclone Freddy, packing powerful winds and torrential rain, killed more than 100 people in Malawi and Mozambique. Freddy, on track to become the longest-lasting storm on record, barrelled through southern Africa at the weekend for the second time within a few weeks, making a comeback after a first hit in late February.

Malawi bore the brunt, counting at least 99 deaths after mudslides overnight washed away houses and sleeping occupants. “We expect the number to rise,” Charles Kalemba, a commissioner at the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, told a press conference.

Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre recorded 85 deaths. Residents used their bare hands to dig through the mud hoping to find survivors. Government rescuers were late to arrive, said one resident refusing to give his name, covered in mud, as he helped with the rescue effort. “The people are overwhelmed. The situation is very difficult,” said ambulance driver Honest Chirwa, adding rescuers lacked adequate equipment. More than 11 000 people were affected by the storm, said the United Nations. The impact of the cyclone has piled more woes on a country grappling with the deadliest cholera outbreak in its history, which has killed over 1 600 people since last year. “Severe weather events such as these are likely to exacerbate the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera,” the UN children’s agency UNICEF warned.

At least 10 other people died and 14 were wounded in neighbouring Mozambique, local authorities said. The Mozambique National Institute for Disaster Management said the fallout from the storm’s second landfall in the country was worse than expected. According to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation, Freddy, which formed off north-western Australia in the first week of February, was set to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.

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