Malawi declares a state of disaster as the death toll rises to 99

A general view of a collapsed road caused by flooding due to heavy rain following Cyclone Freddy in Blantyre

The storm destroyed transportation infrastructure, including roads and bridges

At least 99 people have been killed in Malawi after tropical storm Freddy swept through southern Africa for the second time in a month.

Terrifying amounts of brown water have flowed through neighborhoods and swept away homes.

Malawi’s largest city, Blantyre, has recorded the most deaths: 85, including 36 in a landslide.

The government has declared a state of emergency in 10 districts worst affected by the storm.

Rescue workers are overwhelmed and use shovels to find survivors buried in the mud.

“We have rivers overflowing, we have people being swept away by running water, we have buildings collapsing,” police spokesman Peter Kalaya told the BBC.

The death toll is expected to rise as some areas remain closed due to continued rain and high winds.

Officials at the main referral hospital in Blantyre said they could not cope with the sheer number of bodies they were receiving.

They appealed to next of kin to collect the corpses for burial as the hospital morgue was running out of space.

The storm has also crippled Malawi’s power supply, with most parts of the country experiencing prolonged blackouts.

The national electricity company said it was unable to get its hydroelectric plant up and running because it was filled with debris.

Densely populated poorer communities, living in brick and mud houses, have been hardest hit.

Some of these houses have collapsed in floodwaters, while others have been completely swept away.

The UN and other agencies have warned that the timing of the storm could exacerbate a cholera outbreak – one of Malawi’s worst public health crises.

The government has asked for help for the tens of thousands of people left without food and shelter.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, Freddy is the strongest tropical cyclone on record and could also last the longest.

On Sunday, the storm hit Mozambique as a cyclone — for the second time in less than a month — after battering the island nation of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, causing severe devastation.

It was difficult to determine the extent of damage in Mozambique and the number of deaths, as power and telephone signals were cut in some parts of the affected areas.

About 10 deaths have been reported so far.

Experts say climate change is making tropical storms wetter, windier and more intense around the world.

Freddy had broken records for the strength he mustered during the 8,000 km (5,000 mi) journey he made across the Indian Ocean from northwestern Australia.



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