Malawi’s death toll hits 476 as rescue operations continue

People are struggling to cross a flooded bridge at Mpondasi in Mangochi. Picture by Abel Akiloni- MANA

By Brian Ligomeka


Tropical Cyclone Freddy’s death toll in Malawi has hit 476, the government has announced.

Department of Disaster Management Affairs says the discovery of the 29 bodies bring the total number of the dead as of Sunday night at 17:00gmt to 476.

“The number of displaced people is now at 490,098 with 533 camps set to accommodate the displaced. The death toll has risen from 447 to 476 with 918 injuries. The number of missing persons is at 349 from 282,” reads the statement signed by Charles Kalemba, the Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs.

Meanwhile, international support has now started flowing to Malawi with the United Nations assisting in providing critical logistical and humanitarian aid.

UN has released US$5.5 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) as a relief package for people affected by the cyclone.

Speaking after visiting flood-affected areas, UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Rebecca Adda-Dontoh said she was touched with grief seeing many traumatised victims of Tropical Freddy.

“People are traumatized, and many have lost their homes, their belongings and their livelihoods,” said Adda-Dontoh adding. “In support of the Government-led response, through this CERF grant, we will aim to assist those who have been hardest-hit with life-saving and life-sustaining assistance.”

Currently military experts from Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and search and rescue team from United Kingdom continue to retrieving bodies and rescue people still stranded in the mud.

Tanzania Ambassador to Malawi Humphrey Polepole told the media in an interview on Sunday that his country has dispatched military helicopters and medical personnel.

“Tanzanian military and medical personnel are already on the ground conducting rescue operations in the southern Malawi following the tragedy of the Cyclone Freddy,” he said.

Another of Malawi’s neighbour Zambia has also dispatched a military aircraft and donated 100 tonnes of maize.

Besides its neighbours, the United Kingdom has also deployed a  search and rescue team of 27 and medical team of six to help save lives in the aftermath of the Cyclone Freddy

A statement from the British High Commission in Malawi quotes the UK Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell MP as saying, “we have been working since this horrendous cyclone hit to support the emergency response in Malawi and provide life-saving assistance to those who need it most.”

It adds: “The initial UK package of assistance, which arrived in Malawi today, comprises: 27 members of the UK’s International Search and Rescue Team (ISAR); and six from the UK Emergency Medical Team (EMT); specialist boats; and urgently needed emergency relief items.”

Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Mozambique on 11 March and  started battering Malawi on 12 March.