Malawi Township hit hard by Cyclone Freddy


No beds, little food awaits the survivors of the Malawi cyclone

Wet clothes hang from the windows of a school in Kapeni, a suburb of Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre, where hundreds of people have sought shelter from deadly Cyclone Freddy. With strong winds and rain, the cyclone’s return triggered flooding and mudslides that washed away homes and buried their residents Mayeso Chinthenga, 14, said he was outside for firewood when he and other boys “saw rocks rolling down the mountain ‘ and ran for their lives. “Some of our neighbors died on the spot,” he said. He and his family escaped with their lives. “Our house was destroyed. We lost everything,” Chinthenga said. “Some of our neighbors died on the spot.” The family of five arrived at the Kapeni Demonstration School on Monday after the premises opened to accommodate some of the at least 19,000 people who authorities said were displaced by the storm. “A lot of people came here for shelter, they said they were running from the mudslide,” said Florence Chiwale, a teacher at the school. “We have decided to open the classrooms to them.” – Nearly 200 dead – Nearly 200 people have died in Malawi since Freddy sped across southern Africa over the weekend for the second time in a few weeks. Emergency services expect the number to increase. About 1,000 survivors are currently living at this makeshift evacuation center near the hardest-hit populated southern town of Blantyre. Most are women and children. They sleep on concrete floors, without mattresses. The students’ desks were placed against the walls of the classrooms to make room for them. “The classrooms don’t have lights, we use solar lights,” said Rose Longer, a local development worker. Outside of everything is humid. Help trickles in, but not in large quantities. Most were provided by well-wishers, Longer said. “We distributed donated rice, beans and drinks.”Three women voluntarily prepare meals. They cooked traditional maize porridge in the school kitchen. “This is the first meal I’ve had since I arrived,” Chinthenga said, holding a bag of freeze-dried rice with beans and meat. The government declared “state of disaster” in the affected regions to enable it to allocate emergency resources and respond to the crisis while appealing for local and international assistance. After leaving Australia in early February, Freddy crossed the Indian Ocean and landed in south-east Africa in late February, before returning over the weekend to deal a second harder blow. Cyclone Freddy, which reached landlocked Malawi early Monday morning after sweeping through Mozambique, unofficially broke the World Meteorological Organization’s benchmark last week as the longest-duration tropical cyclone of all time. That was set in 1994 for a 31-day storm named John and researchers will now investigate whether Freddy is the official new titleholder, a process that will likely take months.str-ub /sn/bp

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