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Tropical Storm Freddy Among Deadliest to Hit Africa, As Death Toll Rises to 270

by Martina Igini Africa Mar 16th 20232 mins
Tropical Storm Freddy Among Deadliest to Hit Africa, As Death Toll Rises to 270

In a rare second landfall on Saturday, tropical storm Freddy has killed at least 270 people in Malawi and Mozambique, wreaking havoc on houses, businesses, and power lines.

The devastating tropical storm Freddy has ripped through southern Africa’s Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar in a rare second landfall on Saturday, killing at least 270 people and displacing more than 22,000.

In hardest-hit Malawi, where incessant rains caused catastrophic flash floods and mudslides, President Lazarus Chakwera declared a state of disaster in 10 southern districts and appealed to the international community to provide support and assistance as families gathered on Wednesday to bury the victims of the cyclone.

Malawi’s commercial hub, Blantyre, has recorded most of the deaths including dozens of children. Freddy has also crippled the country’s power supply, causing prolonged blackouts, and has swept away entire neighbourhoods.

The United Nations has warned that the timing of the storm could exacerbate a cholera outbreak – one of Malawi’s worst public health crises.

Tropical storm Freddy has killed more than 270 people in southern Africa since its first landfall in Madagascar nearly a month ago, making it one of the continent’s deadliest storms in over two decades and one of the longest-lasting tropical cyclones ever documented. The cyclone, which lasted for 34 days, crossing the entire South Indian Ocean and travelling more than 8,000 kilometres, has dumped the equivalent of six months of rainfall in six days on Malawi and neighbouring Mozambique.

“We saw a lot of destroyed buildings and clinics. People’s homes had their roofs torn off by the wind. Even before the cyclone hit we saw localised flooding,” Guy Taylor, chief of advocacy, communications and partnerships for Unicef in Mozambique, told Reuters.

“Freddy is having a major socio-economic and humanitarian impact on affected communities,” said Dr Johan Stander, WMO Services Director. “The death toll has been limited by accurate forecasts and early warnings, and coordinated disaster risk reduction action on the ground – although even one casualty is one too many.” 

On Wednesday, Malawi’s ministry of natural resources and climate change said Freddy had “diffused,” with extreme rain expected to fall back. 

Featured image by Malawi Red Cross Society/Twitter.

You might also like: 5 Biggest Environmental Issues In Africa In 2023

Tagged: tropical storm

About the Author

Martina Igini

Martina is the Managing Editor at Earth.Org. She holds two BA degrees, in Translation/Interpreting Studies and Journalism, and a MA in International Development from the University of Vienna. After working at the United Nations Global Communication Department in Vienna, she joined a newspaper in Italy as a reporter before moving to Hong Kong in 2020. Her interests include sustainability and the role of public policy in environmental protection with a focus on developing countries.

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