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Deadly cyclone ‘Freddy’ ravages Malawi

Deadly cyclone 'Freddy' ravages Malawi

Freddy made landfall with sustained winds of nearly 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour), causing “severe damage and cutting off children and families from critical services,” UNICEF, which provides rapid response to disaster-struck areas, said in a statement.

After passing the port town of Quelimane in Mozambique Sunday, the storm continued inland towards the southern tip of neighboring Malawi, satellite data showed.

Destructive winds and heavy rainfall brought down trees and damaged rooftops in both countries, with Malawi having borne the brunt of the inexhaustible storm.

State television station MBC said on Monday at least 99 people died in Malawi, raising the death toll from the 56 reported earlier in the day.

However on Tuesday the toll nearly doubled with authorities saying that 190 people had been killed.

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“The death toll has risen from 99… to 190, with 584 injured and 37 reported missing,” Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs said in a statement.

President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of emergency for the southern region of the country, where the worst effects had been felt, on Monday.

At least 85 people died in the financial hub of Blantyre in the center of the country. Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya told Reuters that two townships in Blantyre — Chilobwe and Ndirande — were still being hit by rain on Monday evening as rescue teams continued to search for survivors.

“Some missing people are feared buried in rubble,” Kalaya said.

At least 17 people have died in Mozambique since Saturday, local authorities said, but the true extent of the damage and loss of life was unclear as phone and power lines in the worst-hit areas had been brought down.

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“The situation is critical in Zambezia province. We can’t advance with an accurate picture of the scale of damage because there’s no communications with all the regions,” Health Minister Armindo Tiago said on public radio.

Freddy first wreaked havoc last month, having killed at least 27 people in Mozambique and Madagascar.

Mozambique has seen more rain in the past four weeks than it normally receives in a year.

More than 171,000 people were affected after the storm and more than half a million were at risk in Mozambique this time, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned.

Freddy also hit as Malawi is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak in its history.

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The storm, which originated in the Indian Ocean in early February became the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Source | rm/ar (Reuters, AP)

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