Cyclone death toll at 507 as Malawi is under fire over school closure

Survivors of Cyclone Freddy at Nguludi in Chiradzulu District. Picture by Mana


Government says the death toll from Cyclone Freddy has now reached 507 as 537 people are reported missing.

According to a statement by the country’s Department of Disaster Management and Affairs (DODMA), 553, 614 people are living in 543 camps.

“As of 21st March 2023, the number of displaced people is at 553,614 with 543 camps set to accommodate the displaced. The death toll has risen from 499 to 507 with 1,332 injuries. The number of reported missing persons is at 537 from 427,” reads a statement signed by DODMA Commissioner Charles Kalemba.

The statement explains that search and rescue teams continue their operations while the Malawi Defence Force and other well-wishers are airlifting relief items, medical supplies, and personnel to places not accessible by road.

Open schools

Meanwhile one of the leading opposition figures in Malawi Atupele Muluzi has criticised the government for its continued use of schools as camps.

“Instead of closing schools some of which have students who will write examinations as early as May, the government would have set up such camps at community grounds and stadiums,” he said.

Malawi’s Ministry of Education closed schools in disaster hit districts and turned some schools into camps for Cyclone victims.

Besides Muluzi several education experts have also criticised the government for the use of schools as camps for a period of over three weeks.