Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Tropical Storm Freddy: Malawian President Chakwera Says Nation Hit By Tragedy

The devastation caused by a tropical storm that ripped through Malawi, killing 225 people is a “national tragedy”, the president has said.

Lazarus Chakwera promised to intensify search and rescue operations, as he attended the funeral of some victims.

Tropical Storm Freddy led to people being swept away by raging waters, or being buried under landslides.

The government has set up 30 emergency camps for at least 20,000 people who have had to leave their homes.

Blantyre, the hilly commercial capital of Malawi, has been worst-affected, with residents dying in landslides and homes crumbling into flood waters.

“Even our health workers need help,” Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

Described the situation as “very fragile”, she said that more than five million people had been affected by the storm.

“We have a history of getting cyclones. Unfortunately for Freddy, it was totally different, totally unexpected,” she said.

“We are still recovering dead bodies. One child was recovered, fortunately still alive,” Ms Chiponda added.

The government’s disaster management agency said that 41 people were still missing, and more than 700 had been injured as the storm tore through Blantyre, and other parts of southern Malawi.

“My best friend, her brother, sister and mother went with the mudslide and their bodies have not been found. It’s devastating. You can’t even mourn,” 19-year-old Blantyre resident Fadila Njolomole was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

President Chakwera, wearing rubber boots and a raincoat, attended the funeral service of 21 victims at a primary school in the city.

“I appeal for more assistance from international partners and donors. This is a national tragedy that has affected every one of us,” he said.

He declared 14 days of national mourning.

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