Environment Environmental disasters Floods

The death toll rises by the hour

Freddy, the record-breaking cyclone, hits Mozambique and Malawi again

On its way across the Indian Ocean, it released more energy than an entire season of American hurricanes.


Relentless Freddy, the cyclone that since last Saturday night has been hitting southern Africa for the second time, has already killed over 60 people in Malawi and Mozambique. This is confirmed by the authorities of both countries and the Red Cross, which is helping in search and rescue operations. Numerous wounded and missing. The city of Blantyre was particularly affected.

Since Saturday, when "Freddy" hit land for the second time since late February, Mozambican authorities have confirmed the deaths of five people.

And among the victims in Malawi there are five people belonging to a single family unit left under the rubble of their house swept away by the strong wind and rain. "We fear that the figure will increase," Malawi police spokesman Peter Kalaya told the AP.

The cyclone also hit Madagascar and Réunion as it crossed the ocean.

"Freddy" developed near Australia in early February and crossed the entire southern Indian Ocean. On February 19, after traveling 8,800 kilometers, he reached Madagascar.

On February 24 it arrived for the first time in Mozambique where it struck again for the second time, with winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour, on March 11, touching land in the port of Quelimane where damage was reported to houses and agricultural land, houses uncovered and trees felled.

In one month, the tropical cyclone recorded seven rapid intensifications and the highest energy accumulated by a cyclone, ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy), the index that measures the amount of energy released by a cyclone over time. On its way, it released more energy than an entire season of American hurricanes.

"Freddy" is set to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record. The United Nations Meteorological Agency convened a panel of experts to determine whether it broke the 31-day record set by Hurricane John in 1994.

On Monday, the regional tropical cyclone monitoring center of the meteorological agency French Météo-France in Réunion issued the warning: "The most intense rains will continue in the next 48 hours" and particularly at risk are the central provinces of the two countries, particularly vulnerable to "floods and landslides in mountainous areas".

Much of the damage suffered in Malawi involves homes built in areas prohibited by law, on mountainsides or near rivers, where landslides, rivers breaking their banks and unprecedented floods are occurring.