Malawi cyclone toll jumps to 190 as hopes for survivors dwindle
The death toll in Malawi from Cyclone Freddy nearly doubled to 190 on Tuesday after the record-breaking storm unleashed floods and landslips in its second strike on Africa in less than three weeks.
“The death toll has risen from 99… to 190, with 584 injured and 37 reported missing,” Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs said in a statement.
Relief workers said they expected the tally to rise.
“The situation is very dire,” said Guilherme Botelho, emergency project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“There are many casualties, either wounded, missing or dead, and the numbers will only increase in the coming days.”
Many people perished in mudslides that washed away homes in the country’s commercial capital, Blantyre.
Across the country, nearly 59,000 people have been affected, and more than 19,000 displaced.
In Chilobwe, a township on Blantyre’s outskirts, survivors milled about in disbelief, looking at flattened houses and structures as rain continued to fall.
Many believed there were still people trapped beneath the muddy rubble of earthen bricks — but there were no rescuers in sight.
John Witman, in his 80s, dressed in a raincoat and woollen hat with his 10 family members in tow, stood in front of what was his son-in-law’s house. There were just rocks left and gushing water, for the house had been washed away.
“I wish that we could find him, and find closure. We feel helpless because no one is here to help us — we don’t know what to do,” he told AFP.
In Chimkwankhunda, a district a few kilometres away, Steve Panganani Matera, wearing a high-visibility green jacket, pointed to a mound of mud.
“There were plenty of houses, but they are all gone,” said Matera.
“There are plenty of bodies down there in the mud, plenty of bodies.”
In other news – Cyclone Freddy kills 15 in Malawi
At least 15 people have died in Malawi and Mozambique as Cyclone Freddy hit the two countries with torrential rains and strong winds, authorities said on Monday.
Police in Malawi said 11 people died in areas surrounding the southern city of Blantyre, where heavy rains triggered flooding. Learn More