HomeMiddle EastDeath toll from Cyclone Freddy in southeast Africa tops 500

Death toll from Cyclone Freddy in southeast Africa tops 500

The World Meteorological Organization says Cyclone Freddy, which started in February, is likely to be the longest in recorded history.

The death toll in South-East Africa due to the exceptional long-lived tropical cyclone Freddy it has risen to 522, according to authorities in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

Disaster management authorities in Malawi, which has been hardest hit by the cyclone, reported Saturday that the death toll had risen to 438. Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera declared a 14-year national mourning period on Thursday. days.

There are hundreds of evacuation centers set up across the country for survivors with tens of thousands in Malawi left homeless and an estimated 345,000 people affected by heavy rains, floods and landslides.

The cyclone left a trail of devastation in southeastern Africa. Neighboring Mozambique and the island nation of Madagascar have also been affected.

In Mozambique, at least 67 people have been killed, according to President Filipe Nyusi, with 50,000 more displaced.

The death toll in both nations is expected to continue to rise. At least 17 people have died on the island nation of Madagascar.

Cyclone Freddy dissipated over land on Wednesday night after making a second landfall in Mozambique and then Malawi over the weekend, causing massive devastation in several regions, including Malawi’s financial capital, Blantyre.

Cyclone Freddy survivors at a camp in Blantyre, Malawi (Rabson Kondowe/Al Jazeera)

Reporting from Makanga, an island in Malawi, Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller said that while rescue services were continuing, they have been slow to get people from the flooded islands to the mainland.

“So far they (police services) have reached about 1,300 people, but hundreds more are waiting. They have had to seek shelter in the trees. Their houses have been bulldozed and they also have no food,” Miller said.

“It will certainly be at least a few more days before a bigger dent is made in terms of rescuing people in places like this, which have been very difficult to reach up to now,” he added.

Freddy made its first landfall on February 21 in Madagascar. From there, the storm moved into Mozambique and then back into the Indian Ocean. On March 11, he arrived in Mozambique for the second time and then moved to Malawi.

“Many areas are inaccessible, which restricts the movement of humanitarian and assessment teams and emergency supplies,” said Paul Turnbull, director of the World Food Program in Malawi. “The true extent of the damage will only be revealed once the assessments have been concluded.”

Both nations were already facing a cholera outbreak before the cyclone hit and there are fears that flooding could worsen the spread of waterborne diseases. Mozambique was also dealing with the first hits and floods from Freddy earlier in the year.

Scientists say human-caused climate change has worsened cyclone activity, making them wetter, more intense and more frequent.

Cyclone Freddy has ravaged southern Africa since late February when it hit Mozambique, Madagascar and Réunion. She then returned to the mainland after regaining strength over the Mozambique Channel.

The World Meteorological Organization convened a panel of experts to determine if Cyclone Freddy has broken the record for the longest cyclone in recorded history.

Southern Africa is currently in the cyclone season, which can bring severe rains and storms until March or April.

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