Malawi: Storm Freddy triggers floods, kills 11

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Eleven (11) people have died and 16 are missing around Malawi’s second-largest city Blantyre after tropical storm Freddy brought torrential rains that triggered floods and landslides, police said on Monday.

Freddy, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, is believed to also be the longest-lasting tropical cyclone, with the previous record held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

It pummelled Mozambique for the second time in a month as a cyclone over the weekend before weakening as it moved inland towards Malawi.

The full extent of the damage and loss of life in Mozambique is not yet clear, as the power supply and phone signals were cut off in the affected area.

Malawi police spokesman Peter Kalaya said that the number of people killed and missing because of Freddy was likely to grow as it had affected 10 districts and so far numbers were only in for Blantyre.

He said rescue teams were looking for people in Chilobwe and Ndirande, two of the worst affected townships in Blantyre, where it was still raining on Monday and most residents were without power.

“Some missing people are feared buried in rubble and our team is working with other cooperating national agencies,” Kalaya said.

Mozambique’s public broadcaster TVM reported that one person was killed near the port of Quelimane when their house collapsed, bringing the number killed to at least 28 in Mozambique and Madagascar since Freddy first made landfall last month.

Mozambique has received more than a year’s worth of rainfall in the past four weeks, and there has been concern that Freddy could cause rivers to burst in its path.

Scientists say climate change is making tropical storms stronger, as oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions and when warm seawater evaporates heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere.

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