Return of Cyclone Freddy: at least 70 dead in Malawi and Mozambique

Cyclone Freddy returns: at least 70 dead in Malawi and Mozambique


Cyclone Freddy, “out of the ordinary” because it made a loop rarely observed by meteorologists, killed at least 70 people in Malawi and Mozambique as it returned to hit southern Africa, according to new reports from the authorities and NGOs on Monday.

To read also: Madagascar: four dead and houses blown away in the passage of cyclone Freddy

At least 66 people have died in Malawi, according to a tweet from the Red Cross, which is involved in rescue operations and cites government figures. 

A previous death toll from authorities put the death toll at 11 in Malawi and 4 in Mozambique. On track to be classified as the longest cyclone ever recorded by meteorologists, Freddy had already affected Madagascar and Mozambique at the end of February. 

The toll was then 17 dead, thousands displaced and houses devastated. Returning to the region last week following an unprecedented loop trajectory, it first fell on Madagascar for the second time in two weeks, causing 10 deaths. Then, it returned to strike Mozambique on Saturday evening. At least four people died in the province of Zambézia (center), open to the Mozambique Channel, local authorities told AFP. But the balance sheet is likely to climb, information reaching with difficulty due to cut communications.

The port city of Quelimane (center), about 40 km from where the cyclone landed, is still largely isolated from the rest of the world: roads, water, electricity are cut in places, according to Guy Taylor, spokesperson of Unicef ​​on the spot reached by telephone. Many people are missing, according to the authorities. And the disaster seems to have exceeded fears: “Emergency accommodation centers have been overwhelmed, because the number of people affected has been higher than expected,” Luisa Meque, president of the national management office, told AFP. disasters.

Strong winds torrential rains

The cyclone which was accompanied by strong winds and torrential rains then moved overnight from Sunday to Monday towards neighboring Malawi, causing flooding and significant mudslides. 

Schools in the country among the poorest in the world have been closed in much of the south. Most of the bodies were found in the Blantyre region (south), Malawi's economic capital, according to local police. 

“Relief operations are still ongoing, but they are hampered by the incessant rains,” Beatrice Mikuwa, spokeswoman, told AFP. swept away and their occupants buried in the mud, noted an AFP journalist.

Richard Duwa, 38, a civil servant, told AFP the water suddenly rose in the middle of the night . 

At 03:00 GMT (05:00 local time), he received a phone call: five members of his family living in the township were taken away. “We have just found the body of a little boy, but the others are still not found” , he said. He has to go to the morgue. Bodies have been found downstream, believed to be his relatives. The national flag carrier, Malawi Airlines, has canceled all flights to Blantyre until further notice. Freddy, who has now claimed around 100 lives , should leave by the sea during the week and weaken, according to forecasts.

The phenomenon, formed off the coast of Australia and which reached the stage of storm at the beginning of February, rages in the Indian Ocean for 35 days. It passed off the French island of Reunion and Mauritius causing limited damage there. Several storms or cyclones cross the southwest Indian Ocean each year during the hurricane season which extends from November to April .