Survivors in shock as Cyclone Freddy toll passes 400 in Malawi, Mozambique

March 17, 2023 7:26 am

[Source: Reuters]

The last thing Lukia Akimu remembers is the surge of floodwater that hit her village near Mount Soche this week when Tropical Cyclone Freddy tore through southern Malawi.

The next thing she knew, she woke up in hospital, her head wrapped in bandages and her neck in a brace.

It is not known whether any of her family members survived, a nurse told Reuters.

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Tropical Cyclone Freddy has killed more than 400 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall in Africa in late February and circled back to hit the region for a second time over the weekend.

The storm has now dissipated, but heavy rains are expected to continue in parts of Malawi and will likely cause more floods around lakeshore areas, the ministry of natural resources and climate change said in a statement.

In Mozambique, some villages have been completely cut off since the cyclone made its second landfall on Saturday.

At least 53 people have died in Mozambique and 326 in Malawi since the weekend, according to government figures. The storm had already killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before it lashed Mozambique a second time.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera visited Queen Elizabeth hospital on Thursday and prayed with flood victims. The storm injured at least 700 people in Malawi at the last count.

As rain continued to fall, some had to bury their dead.

In the southern village of Mtauchira, men stood in newly dug graves that had filled up like pools, scooping the water out with buckets so they could lower in the caskets.

While electricity was starting to come back in Malawi on Thursday, many places affected by the storm still had no running water, including in Blantyre, the second-biggest city.

Some Blantyre residents said they wished they had heeded warnings to flee before the cyclone hit, but they had not understood the gravity of the situation and now had nowhere to go.

Freddy is one of the longest-lasting tropical cyclones ever recorded and one of the deadliest in Africa in recent years.