Survivors in shock as Cyclone Freddy toll passes 300 in Malawi, Mozambique

BLANTYRE, March 16 (Reuters) – The last thing Lukia Akimu remembers is the wave of floodwaters that hit her village near Mount Soche earlier this week as Tropical Cyclone Freddy swept through southern Malawi.

The next thing she knew, she woke up in the hospital, her head wrapped in bandages and her neck in a brace.

“I saw a lot of water and some people were washed away. Then I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who brought me here,” Akimu, 35, said from a bed at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre town.

It is not known if any of her relatives survived, a nurse told Reuters.

Tropical Cyclone Freddy has killed more than 300 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall last month. floods.

The storm has now subsided, but heavy rains are expected to continue in parts of Malawi and likely lead to more flooding around the lake’s shores, the country’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change said in a statement.

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In Mozambique, some villages have been completely closed off since the cyclone made landfall for the second time on Saturday.

“We have mobilized boats and other resources to search and rescue people. Many communities have been stranded,” said Paulo Tomas, spokesman for Mozambique’s disaster relief organization.

“After this time, they starve and need a good meal and medical attention,” he said.

At least 53 people have been killed in Mozambique since the weekend and 225 in Malawi, government figures show. The storm had already killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before hitting Mozambique a second time.

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera visited Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Thursday, where he prayed with flood victims. At last count, at least 700 people have been injured by the storm in Malawi.

As the rain continued to fall, some had to bury their dead.

In the village of Mtauchira in southern Malawi, men stood in newly dug graves that had filled like pools, scooping out the water with buckets so they could sink into the coffins.

While electricity began to return to Malawi on Thursday, many places hit by the storm still had no running water, including in Blantyre, the country’s second-largest city.

Some Blantyre residents said they wished they had heeded the warnings to flee before the cyclone hit, but they didn’t understand gravity and had nowhere to go.

“It was very difficult for people to really understand what was going on prior to this storm. The government sent the messages but then nothing happened,” said Blantyre resident Logasiano Misoya. “I’m lucky to be alive.”

Freddy is one of the longest lasting tropical cyclones on record and one of the deadliest in Africa in recent years.

Reporting by Tom Gibb and Frank Phiri in Blantyre and Manuel Mucari in Maputo; Additional reporting by Carien du Plessis in Johannesburg; Written by Nellie Peyton; Edited by Alexander Winning, Bradley Perrett and Sharon Singleton

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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