Hundreds dead as Cyclone Freddy ravages Malawi and Mozambique

BLANTYRE (MALAWI): Devastating Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which ripped through southern Africa in a rare second landfall, has killed at least 216 people in Malawi and Mozambique since Saturday evening, and the death toll is expected to rise.
Heavy rains that triggered floods and mudslides have killed 199 people in Malawi, authorities said on Tuesday. President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a “state of disaster” in the southern region of the country and in the now ravaged commercial capital, Blantyre. Some 19,000 people in the south of the country have been displaced, according to Malawi’s disaster management directorate.
“Electricity and communications are cut in many affected areas, hampering aid operations,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said at a press briefing on Tuesday after- noon. The most affected regions remain inaccessible, so the full extent of the damage is so far unknown.
Reports from Mozambique’s disaster institute confirmed on Tuesday that 17 people died in the country and 1,900 homes were destroyed in the coastal province of Zambezia. Tens of thousands of people are still holed up in storm shelters and accommodation centers.
Freddy will continue to hit central Mozambique and southern Malawi with extreme rainfall before returning to the sea late Wednesday afternoon, the UN meteorological center on Reunion Island predicted.
Human rights group Amnesty International has called on the international community to mobilize resources and step up aid and rescue efforts in both countries. Relief efforts across the nations are strained and were already battling a cholera outbreak when Freddy struck.
“It is clear that the official death toll will rise in Malawi and Mozambique, as will reports of destroyed infrastructure,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty International’s director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “The affected countries must also be compensated for the losses and damage caused by the cyclone.”
In November last year, nations agreed to compensate countries affected by extreme weather exacerbated by man-made climate change. Cyclones are wetter, more frequent and more intense as the planet warms, scientists say.
“Mozambique and Malawi are among the countries least responsible for climate change, but they are facing the full brunt of intensifying storms due to global warming, mainly due to carbon emissions from the world’s richest countries. “, added Chagutah.
Cyclone Freddy has been wreaking havoc in southern Africa since late February. It also hit the island states of Madagascar and Reunion last month as it crossed the Indian Ocean.
The cyclone intensified a record seven times and has the highest accumulated cyclonic energy on record, or ACE, which is a measure of how much energy a cyclone has released over time. Freddy has recorded more energy in its lifetime than a typical hurricane season in the United States.
Freddy first developed near Australia in early February and is expected to be the longest tropical cyclone on record. The UN weather agency has convened a panel of experts to determine whether it has broken the record set by Hurricane John in 1994 by 31 days.


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