The World Meteorological Office (WMO) on Tuesday said that tropical Cyclone Freddy, which is threatening communities in Madagascar and Mozambique for a second time in as many weeks, could become the longest-lasting storm of its kind on record.
According to WMO, it continues to monitor the “remarkable” tropical storm, which has cut a destructive path across the two countries since it first developed a month ago.
“Freddy is having a major socio-economic and humanitarian impact on affected communities. The death toll has been limited by accurate forecasts and early warnings, and coordinated disaster risk reduction action on the ground - although even one casualty is one too many,” WMO Services Director Johan Stander said.
The WMO announcement comes as the death toll due to the storm jumped to least 21 people: 10 in Mozambique and 11 in Madagascar.
Annual storm strikes
Madagascar along with Mozambique are typically hit several times during the annual November-April storm season.
Last month, the WMO said other neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi and parts of South Africa, may be affected by Cyclone Freddy.
The UN's World Food Programme also said last month that more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected by Freddy, and the cyclone would then pass through Mozambique as well as Zimbabwe on the African mainland.
“The cyclone is now moving away from Madagascar and is expected to intensify as it moves again towards Mozambique”, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said adding that response was underway in both countries.
Freddy’s latest passage by Madagascar will increase the number of people impacted by the system on the island.
“Following Freddy’s first landfall on February 21 at the south-east coast of Madagascar, at least 226,000 people were affected, of whom an estimated 148,000 are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the findings of a multisector assessment carried out by the country’s government and humanitarian partners,” OCHA added.
In Mozambique, nearly 166,600 people have been affected by Cyclone Freddy, according to the country’s National Institute for Disaster Management.
Authorities reported that nearly 9,900 displaced people took shelter in 40 accommodation sites in Inhambane, Gaza, Sofala as well as Maputo, and about 800 people have been rescued.
More than 28,300 houses were destroyed (1,667), damaged (13,966) or flooded (12,733). At least 25 health facilities and 919 classrooms were destroyed, leaving 68,280 children out of school.