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Cyclone Freddy breaks records. He attacked Malawi. Dozens dead

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Freddy, a record-long tropical cyclone, hit Malawi on its rally across Africa. The country’s authorities said that at least 60 people were killed in floods and landslides and thousands were left without power. The day before, the element passed through Mozambique. Freddy has been spinning for 35 days, during which time he contributed to the deaths of around 100 people in several countries. As meteorologists warn, he probably has not yet said the last word.

Cyclone Freddy hit southern Malawi, bringing with it heavy rain and powerful gusts of wind. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), it is one of the strongest thunderstormsever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

Severe flooding

On Monday afternoon, Malawi authorities said at least 60 people were killed and more than 200 injured by the storm, mainly due to fallen trees, landslides and flooding.

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“Many of the buildings are mud houses with tin roofs, so the roofs fall on people’s heads,” explained Marion Pechayre of Doctors Without Borders.

Cyclone Freddy hit MalawiReuters

The situation was very difficult in Blantyre, one of the largest cities in the country. On Monday morning, local police spokesman Peter Kalaya said the death toll had reached 11 and 16 residents were still missing. Authorities fear the death toll will rise. “Some missing people may be buried under the rubble,” the police officer noted.

Rescue teams searched for people in the Chilobwe and Ndirande districts, where it was still raining and many customers were without power.

Cyclone Freddy hit MalawiReuters

Cyclone Freddy hit MalawiReuters

The Malawi Department of Climate Change and Meteorology reported that the weather dangers began even before the actual cyclone hit, as the forecasting phenomena, such as strong winds and heavy rain, had already broken and toppled trees.

No electricity or communication

On Sunday, the cyclone also hit Mozambique (for the second time, having hit these areas on February 24), causing numerous material losses. On Monday, the country’s authorities said that at least four people had died there. In the district of Marromeu, more than 650 houses were destroyed and in the province of Sofala there was extensive flooding affecting 3,000 people.

The storm knocked down power lines.

– There was a very strong wind at night. There’s a lot of damage, trees down, roofs blown off,” said Guy Taylor of UNICEF. “This is a large-scale disaster and we may need additional support.

Cyclone Freddy hit MozambiqueReuters/UNICEF Mozambique/2023/Alfredo Zuniga

Cyclone Freddy hit MozambiqueReuters/UNICEF Mozambique/2023/Alfredo Zuniga

– No shops or businesses are working. Everything is closed,” Vania Massinque, from Quelimane in the Zambezia province, told reporters. – I see that some houses have their roofs removed, their windows are broken and the streets are flooded. It’s really scary,” she added.

Cyclone Freddy hit MozambiqueReuters/UNICEF Mozambique/2023/Alfredo Zuniga

Location of Cyclone Freddy, March 12, 2023NASA Worldview EarthData

>>> More about Cyclone Freddy’s journey: An impressive rally. The record from almost 30 years ago may be broken

Long and strong

As calculated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Freddy has been spinning for 35 days. The element broke the record for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in history. The previous record holder from 1994 held it for 31 days.

There are many indications that Freddy has not yet said the last word. Because it moves very slowly, meteorologists do not rule out that it will gain strength if it changes its route and is over the water again. According to the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA), it is possible that it will break another dangerous record – the largest accumulated cyclone energy in the southern hemisphere. So far, it has contributed to the deaths of almost 100 people in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.

Scientists are sure that climate change is responsible for the intensification of hurricanes and tropical cyclones. As the average global temperature – and thus the water surface – increases, these phenomena become wetter and stronger.

Projected track of Cyclone FreddyJTWC

Main photo source: Malawi DCCMS

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