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TROPICAL TURMOIL

Malawi declares State of Disaster as Cyclone Freddy death toll rises

Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera. (Photo: Amos Gumulira / AFP)

Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera declared a State of Disaster in the southern region as the death toll from a tropical cyclone increased to almost 100 and heavy rains damaged power supplies and infrastructure. 

The president “has noted with grave concern the devastation that Cyclone Freddy is currently bringing to most districts”, he said in a statement issued by his office on Monday. Chakwera is currently in Qatar and it’s unclear if he will cut his trip short to deal with the crisis.

The declaration will allow the government to accelerate its response to the storm that made landfall Sunday, striking the nation for a second time in a month.

The cyclone has killed 99 people and affected about 10,000, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs said late Monday.

Many parts of the nation are in darkness and utility company Electricity Supply Corp of Malawi is struggling to restore power.

Vast areas of crop land and livestock have been washed away, according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, which said it would quantify the extent of the damage in due course.

Freddy, which appears to have become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone and was first named on February 6, has also brought heavy rains and havoc to other African nations including Madagascar and Mozambique.

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