The passage of Cyclone Freddy in Malawi leaves more than 300 fatalities | news today
Construction affected by the rains caused by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi, Africa.
Photo: AFP – AMOS GUMULIRA
The death toll in Malawi from Cyclone Freddy rose to 326, the country’s president said on Thursday, bringing the total number of victims since February from this storm in southern Africa to more than 400.
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“Compared to yesterday, the death toll from this disaster has risen from 225 to 326,” said President Lazarus Chakwera, in a devastated region in the south of the country near the market city of Blantyre.
“The number of displaced persons has more than doubled to 183,159, as has the number of displaced households, which now stands at 40,702,” it added.
Chakwera insisted on his appeal for international help as rescue teams tried to find survivors trapped in floods and landslides caused by torrential rains this week.
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The authorities set up more than 300 emergency shelters for those affected and mobilized the army and the police to manage the crisis. They also declared two weeks of national mourning and a state of emergency.
“The cyclone has destroyed property, homes, crops and infrastructure, including bridges that have cut off communities in desperate need of help,” the president said. The cyclone first struck southern Africa in late February, but mainly affected Madagascar and Mozambique and caused limited damage in Malawi, which lies in the interior of the continent.
The storm returned to the Indian Ocean, where it gained more power due to the high water temperatures, and made an unusual change of trajectory to hit the mainland again with more force.
In Mozambique, the cyclone has killed at least 73 people and displaced tens of thousands of people in recent weeks. In addition, another 17 people died in Madagascar.
The rains have eased since Wednesday, but Cyclone Freddy is on track to become one of the world’s longest tropical storms.
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Meteorologists point out that this exceptional duration and other characteristics of the cyclone are linked to climate change. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at India’s Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said ocean warming “is a key factor contributing to the rapid intensification of cyclones.”
“Cyclone Freddy experienced up to seven rapid intensifications in its path,” he said.
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