Malawi President Declares State of Disaster for Areas Hit by Cyclone Freddy


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WASHINGTON —Malawi has declared a state of disaster from Cyclone Freddy, which has killed at least 219 people in Malawi and Mozambique since Saturday night, and displaced 11,000.

The disaster declaration is a part of an appeal for national and international assistance for the victims of the cyclone. So far, several organizations have started responding to the call.

Marion Pechayre, head of the mission for Doctors Without Borders in Malawi, told VOA that her organization has assigned medical workers to assist in handling casualties from the cyclone.

"We are supporting the ministry of health in one of the biggest hospitals in the country, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, to triage and treat the patients at the emergency department because they have mass casualties brought to the hospital," she said.

Survivors of homes that were washed away in southern districts say they are in need of basic necessities.

"The first one is food," said Daniel Chilonda, one of the victims in hard-hit Chilobwe Township, in Blantyre. "We also need plastic sheets so that we protect our shelters against the rains. Also, where we lack some clean water, soap and blankets."

The Malawi government said it is making efforts to assist the victims.

Sosten Gwengwe, minister of finance, told a press conference in Blantyre on Tuesday that the government is considering revisiting its 2023-'24 budget to help cyclone victims.

"Last week we presented a budget and I know that on Monday, parliamentarians will be sitting again to start the debate," he said. "I will be pleading with parliamentarians to start re-looking at our figures, because we might need to redirect some priorities because the scale of devastation that we have seen here is untold."

Cyclone Freddy is one of the most powerful and longest-lasting storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

It made landfall in Mozambique over the weekend, leaving more than 20,000 people homeless. Meteorological experts in Malawi say the cyclone is slowly moving back to Mozambique.

"However, as this cyclone is weakening, it is giving way for the Congo Air Mass which will continue giving rainfall," said Lucy Mtilatila, head of the Meteorological Department in Malawi. "Unfortunately, we are seeing a possibility of rainfall to continue over some areas throughout the week."

In the meantime, rescue and search operations are under way in the cyclone-hit areas despite the continuing rains.