Malawi declares two weeks of mourning for victims of Cyclone Freddy
Two weeks of national mourning has been declared in Malawi for the hundreds of people killed and hundreds of thousands more displaced by Cyclone Freddy, likely the longest lasting in the southern hemisphere.
In a televised address this week, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera also ordered all flags to fly at half-staff for the first week and announced he would head efforts to assist Malawians affected by the record storm. Chakwera said the decision to declare the extended period of mourning came after he witnessed the scale of devastation from the cyclone and the agony victims went through to save their lives.
Appealing to Malawians not to lose hope, the president also said he will make sure that all those who are stranded and trapped are brought to safety. To that end, Chakwera also noted that the about $1.6 million released by the government to assist the victims was not enough, and appealed for global support to assist the thousands of people now in evacuation camps.
Cyclone Freddy was a record-breaking storm that made its way into the southern African country and its eastern neighbor Mozambique last weekend. Weather experts in Malawi say Cyclone Freddy has now gone and that the rains are due to an incoming weather front from Congo.
As of Thursday, there have been more than 300 documented deaths in both countries and nearly 90,000 people have been displaced as their homes were swept away. The cyclone caused widespread devastation in Malawi, including critical infrastructure, with roads having been cut off and electricity poles fallen down. Some private citizens, multinational companies as well as the United Nations and United States Agency for International Development have started providing some relief.