15 DEAD AS CYCLONE FREDDY HITS MALAWI
JOHANNESBURG. — Fifteen people have died in Malawi and Mozambique as Cyclone Freddy hit the two countries with torrential rains and strong winds upon its return to southern Africa’s mainland, authorities said yesterday.
Police in Malawi said 11 people died in areas surrounding the southern city of Blantyre, where heavy rains triggered flooding.
At least 16 more people were missing and four injured, according to a preliminary count, police said.
Four more people died in Mozambique, local authorities said, as an assessment of the damage was underway after the storm made its second landfall in the country on Saturday.
Richard Duwa (38) said his sister-in-law’s family was swept away by flash floods in Chilobwe, a township south of Blantyre.
“We got a call from the neighbours at around five am to say that ‘your relations have been washed away by the rains’,” Duwa, a government clerk, told AFP.
Freddy reached the landlocked country early yesterday morning after sweeping through Mozambique at the weekend.
In Mozambique, at least three people died in Namacura, a town in the central Zambezia province where the cyclone made landfall on Saturday, according to district head Moura Xavier.
One more was reported dead at the weekend, after a house collapsed in the nearby district of Zalala.
The death toll was expected to increase, as authorities worked to reach all affected areas.
“We are prioritising rescuing people and removing the lifeless bodies. We don’t have numbers,” said Andre Tazingua, a fire service commander in Zambezia.
According to the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Freddy, which formed off north western Australia in the first week of February, was set to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.