Malawi has become a major casualty of Cyclone Freddy, damaging over half the nation, urging President Lazarus Chakwera to ask for help from international bodies to aid in its recovery from the vast structural destruction. Cyclone Freddy has broken the record for the longest-lasting tropical storm and has killed several hundreds of people.
The number of deaths reported due to the disaster in Malawi alone was 438 by Saturday. Rescuers and families are struggling to locate missing people amid the mud and rubble. The damage has been observed across 13 districts, which make up nearly half of the country.
Early warnings from the government helped save the lives of people living in certain low-lying areas. However, the city of Blantyre was affected heavily due to unexpected landslides.
President Chakwera has called for help and support from the international community to cope with this tragedy. The damage caused by the cyclone has resulted in a severe shortage of food and shelter. Around 36 roads were broken, and nine bridges were washed away due to the cyclone, he added.
According to the President, Malawi has been devastated for the 3rd time in 13 months. The people were trying to return to normalcy after the effects of Cyclone Idai in 2019, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, Cyclone Freddy. Following the President’s recent visit to hospitals in Blantyre, it has become clear that both psychological as well as social needs will have to be addressed in order for people to overcome the trauma.
Cyclone Freddy first developed in early February off Australia and traveled a distance of 5,000 miles across the Indian Ocean, before making two landfalls in Southeast Africa. This resulted in high winds and torrential rains, causing the death of more than 700 people across Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi.