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Over 480 fatalities, 349 missing in Malawi and Mozambique after floods caused by Tropical Cyclone “Freddy”

tropical cyclone freddy flood mozambique march 2023

Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” has caused over 190 fatalities and displaced more than 11 000 people in southern Malawi and Mozambique. The cyclone made its second landfall in central Mozambique on March 11 and weakened as it moved northward inland over Zambezia and Tete provinces in Mozambique and southern Malawi.

As of March 14, there have been at least 190 fatalities and over 16 600 affected by the cyclone in southern Malawi, which borders Mozambique.

584 people have been injured and 37 are still missing, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs said in a statement released Tuesday, March 14.

The hillside settlement of Chilobwe, located near Malawi’s second-largest city, Blantyre, has been hit hard by the aftermath of Freddy. Unfortunately, many of the fatalities in the area have occurred due to the vulnerable nature of the houses built with mud bricks, which were unable to withstand the harsh weather conditions.

The tragedy in Chilobwe is exemplified by the account of Donald Banda, a 16-year-old student, who was a witness to the disaster. Banda shared that there was a massive mudslide that struck overnight, destroying everything in its path. The incident dragged down several houses, leaving several residents missing or dead.

Banda is among the residents of Chilobwe who are actively searching for their neighbors, dead or alive. The scale of the disaster is overwhelming, and about 100 residents have come together to help each other. The mudslide was severe, and several houses and their occupants disappeared almost instantly.

5 fatalities have also been reported across Mozambique due to the second landfall of Freddy. More than 22 000 people were evacuated.

The Mozambique National Institute for Disaster Management said the fallout from the storm’s second landfall in the country was worse than expected.

Freddy’s center was located in the southern Tete Province, very close to the border with southern Malawi on March 13 at 12:00 UTC, with maximum sustained winds of 51 km/h (tropical depression). The cyclone is forecast to continue inland over southern Malawi and the Zambezia Province and re-enter the Mozambique Channel, further weakening and dissipating on March 14 – 16.

The next 48 hours are crucial, as very heavy rainfall is still forecast over southern Malawi and over Zambezia, Sofala, Manica, Tete, and Niassa Provinces in Mozambique.

ex-tc-freddy-12z-march 14 2023
Image credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 12:00 UTC on March 14, 2023

Update

March 19

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs of Malawi reported that as of March 19, 476 people have died, 349 are missing, 918 are injured, and nearly 491 000 have been displaced from their homes in the Southern Region.

References:

1 Cyclone Freddy death toll in Malawi, Mozambique passes 100 – Al Jazeera – March 14, 2023

2 Mozambique, Malawi – Tropical cyclone “Freddy” update – DG ECHO – March 14, 2023

3 Cyclone Freddy: At least 190 dead in Malawi due to intense storm – Reuters – March 14, 2023

Featured image credit: Mozambique WFP

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