Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday appealed for international help to deal with the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy, which has killed at least 225 people in the poor southern African country.
The head of state declared two weeks of national mourning, with flags flown at half-mast for the first seven days. “This cyclone is the third in 13 months to hit our country: a proof of the realities of climate change,” he said in a televised address.
Earlier he travelled to the southern town of Blantyre, Malawi’s economic capital and the epicentre of the disaster, where he attended a ceremony for cyclone victims. “This is a national tragedy,” he said wearing a mackintosh and rain boots.
“I appeal to international partners and donors to provide additional assistance in the face of the destruction and damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy,” President Chakwera urged.
An emergency ministerial meeting authorised the release of 1.6 billion kwacha ($1.5 million) to help the affected population, “but I can already tell you that this money will not be enough,” Chakwera stressed.
An exceptionally long-lived Cyclone Freddy had already hit Southern Africa in late February, killing 17 people, before making its way back in early March.
The latest forecast is for the cyclone to dissipate over land but the rains are likely to persist for several more days.
The cyclone also hit neighbouring Mozambique on its second pass. A still partial death toll there stood at 21 on Wednesday.