Death toll rises, residents pick up pieces after Cyclone Freddy

BLANTYRE, Malawi — Authorities are still grappling with the scale of destruction caused by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi and Mozambique since Saturday night, with more than 370 confirmed dead, several hundred people still missing and tens of thousands displaced.

On Friday, authorities in Malawi said Freddy killed at least 326 people, 200 of whom remain missing. There are hundreds of evacuation centers set up across the country for survivors. Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera declared a 14-day period of national mourning on Thursday.

In Mozambique, authorities said at least 53 people had been killed since Saturday, with another 50,000 still displaced. The death toll in both countries is expected to continue to rise.

Cyclone Freddy dissipated over land on Wednesday evening after making landfall for the second time in Mozambique and then Malawi over the weekend and causing massive devastation in several regions, including Malawi’s financial capital, Blantyre .

“Many areas are inaccessible, limiting the movement of assessment and humanitarian teams and vital supplies,” said Paul Turnbull, director of the World Food Program in Malawi. “The true extent of the damage will not be revealed until assessments are completed.”

Both countries were already dealing with a cholera outbreak before the cyclone hit and there are fears the floods could worsen the spread of waterborne diseases. Mozambique was also grappling with the first blows and floods from Freddy earlier in the year.

Scientists say human-caused climate change has worsened cyclone activity, making them wetter, more intense and more frequent.

Cyclone Freddy has been ravaging southern Africa since late February, when it hit Mozambique, Madagascar and Reunion. It then looped back to the mainland after regaining strength in the Mozambique Channel.

Freddy first developed near Australia in early February and the World Meteorological Organization convened a panel of experts to determine if it broke the record for longest cyclone on record.


Alexandre Nhampossa and Tom Gould contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique. Kabukuru brought from Mombasa, Kenya.


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