Malawi President Chakwera announces 14 days mourning over Cyclone Freddy deaths

Malawi Cyclone

Malawi Defence Force soldiers recover a body of a victim of landslide which resulted due to heavy rains resulting from Cyclone Freddy during a rescue operation at Manje informal settlement in Blantyre, southern Malawi, March 16, 2023.

Photo credit: AFP

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday directed that his country will observe a 14-days mourning over the deaths caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy.

In a statement the Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Collen Zamba said that “all flags are to be hoisted at half-mast for the first 7 days of the mourning period (Thursday March 16, to Wednesday March 22, 2023)”.

“His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi in exercise of powers vested in him pursuant to Section 89 (5) of the Constitution has directed that the nation observes a 14 Day national mourning commencing Thursday 16 March 2023 to Wednesday March 29, 2023 to honour the lives lost due to Cyclone Freddy”, the statement issued Thursday reads.

In Malawi, Tropical Cyclone Freddy affected 13 districts in the Southern Region, claimed 225 lives, injured 707 people and displaced over 83,000 people from 18,689 households.

It strengthened into one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere.

On Wednesday, President Chakwera attended a funeral ceremony of the 21 people who died in Chilobwe, Blantyre following the devastating effects of the Tropical Cyclone Freddy and visited people affected by the cyclone in Manja, Ndirande and Nyambadwe camps in Blantyre.

Tropical Cyclone Freddy struck central Mozambique in Zambezia on 11 March, destroying homes and causing widespread flooding. The storm also brought down telephone lines and power cables, leading to communication outages.

In Mozambique, the storm led to 63 deaths and displaced 49,000 people according to official statistics.

After hitting Mozambique, the cyclone then lashed Malawi with heavy rains, bringing landslides to rural areas and impacting Blantyre with serious flooding.

Freddy is arguably the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record, having first made landfall in mid-February before afflicting Madagascar, Mauritius and Mozambique.

Malawi’s Minister of Education, Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa announced the continuation of the suspension of classes until the situation improves.

Earlier, as a precautionary measure, the ministry temporarily suspended physical learning in the affected districts on Monday and Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International (AI) said Mozambique and Malawi are among the countries least responsible for climate change, yet they are facing the full force of storms that are intensifying due to global warming driven mostly by carbon emissions from the world’s richest nations.

The lobby group also urged the Southern African Development Community and the international community to mobilize the necessary resources to aid rescue efforts in the countries hardest hit by Cyclone Freddy. 

“The focus must be on saving lives and providing relief in a manner that is compliant with human rights standards, for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods”, AI Director for East and Southern Africa Mr Tigere Chagutah said adding “the affected countries must also be compensated for loss and damage caused by the cyclone”.


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