Malawi declares a state of disaster with nearly 200 dead

Destruction of roads and bridges hampered relief efforts

At least 190 people are now confirmed dead in Malawi after Tropical Storm Freddy swept through southern Africa for the second time in a month.

Terrifying amounts of brown water cascaded through neighborhoods, washing away homes.

Malawi’s commercial hub, Blantyre, has recorded the most deaths, 158, including 36 in a landslide.

The government has declared a state of disaster in the 10 southern districts most affected by the storm.

The rescuers are overwhelmed and are using shovels to try and find the survivors buried in the mud.

“We have rivers overflowing, people being washed away, buildings collapsing,” police spokesman Peter Kalaya told the BBC.

The government’s disaster relief agency said the death toll rose from 99 on Monday to 190, while some 584 people were injured and 37 were still missing.

More than 20,000 people have been displaced, he added.

Officials at Blantyre’s main referral hospital said they were unable to cope with the huge number of bodies they were receiving.

They have appealed to bereaved families to collect the bodies for burial as the hospital morgue was running out of space.

The death toll is expected to rise as some areas remain isolated due to the incessant rain and rushing winds.

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

The national power company said it was unable to operate its hydroelectric plant as it had been filled with debris.

The densely populated poorest communities, living in adobe and mud houses, have been hardest hit.

Some of these houses collapsed in the flood waters, while others were completely swept away.

Collapsed roads and bridges had hampered rescue operations, while helicopters could not be used due to heavy rains and strong winds.

The United Nations and other agencies have warned that the timing of the storm could exacerbate a cholera epidemic, one of Malawi’s worst public health crises.

The government has called for help for the tens of thousands of people who have been left without food and shelter.

Freddy is the strongest tropical cyclone on record and may even be the longest lasting, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

The storm hit Mozambique like a cyclone on Sunday – for the second time in less than a month – after hitting the Indian Ocean island nation of Madagascar, causing severe destruction.

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

About 10 deaths have been reported so far.

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

Freddy had broken records for the force built up during the 8,000 km (5,000 mile) course he traveled across the Indian Ocean from north-western Australia.



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