Death toll from Cyclone Freddy passes 500 in Malawi

Wednesday March 22 2023
Malawi Defence Force soldiers and civilians recovering a body

Malawi Defence Force soldiers and civilians recovering the body of a mudslide victim in Blantyre, southern Malawi on March 17, 2023. Heavy rains resulting from cyclone Freddy caused huge mudslides. PHOTO | AMOS GUMULIRA | AFP


The death toll from tropical cyclone Freddy has risen to 507 in Malawi with 1,332 injuries, the government announced Tuesday as rescue and recovery teams continued their operations.

“As of today, 21st March 2023, the number of displaced people is at 553,614 with 543 camps set to accommodate the displaced,” the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) said in a statement.

“The death toll has risen from 499 to 507 with 1,332 injuries. The number of reported missing persons is at 537 from 427,” the DoDMA statement said, adding that the Malawi Defence Force (MDF), the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and the United Kingdom search and rescue and recovery teams are continuing with their operations.

In Chilobwe, Blantyre District, the MDF and the MPS have recovered 50 bodies since they started operations on March 14.

Path of mudslides caused by Freddy

An aerial view of the path of mudslides caused by Cyclone Freddy in Mulanje district, Malawi. The storm dumped six months' worth of rainfall in six days. PHOTO | JACK MCBRAMS | AFP

Supplies airlifts


The MDF is also airlifting relief items, medical supplies and personnel to places not accessible by road.

The helicopters dispatched by the governments of Tanzania and Zambia continue airlifting relief assistance to areas that are inaccessible by road and water.

“The next two days will be crucial in the response efforts around Cyclone Freddy as I am conducting a number of bilateral meetings with various international partners who have already started helping us to provide support to disaster-stricken people,” President Lazarus Chakwera said on Monday.

Malawi police officers with sniffer dogs

Malawi police officers on March 17, 2023 use sniffer dogs to search for bodies buried in mud after a mudslide caused by heavy floods on the slopes of Soche Hill in Blantyre, Malawi. PHOTO | AMOS GUMULIRA | AFP

Humanitarian assistance

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has provided $300,000 to Malawi for humanitarian assistance following the devastating cyclone.

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

In Mozambique, at least 165 deaths have been recorded across eight provinces, mostly in Zambezia.

The Mozambique government said that the number of people affected by the second landfall of the cyclone has risen to more than 886,000.

More than 100,000 houses have been destroyed and 348,000 hectares of land affected.