Malawi has diverted flights and suspended schools in its southern districts due to Cyclone Freddy, which has killed at least 40 people, according to the country’s disaster management agency.
Cyclone Freddy hit Malawi on Friday and has caused damage in at least 10 districts in the country’s south.
The government in Lilongwe suspended schools in southern Malawi until further notice. In Blantyre, authorities suspended flights at the Chileka International airport for much of Sunday and Monday.
“Our officers have been deployed to rescue and provide other services to people who need rescue and we are in each of the districts because we also have police stations in these districts,” said Peter Kalaya, spokesman for Malawi’s Police Service. “But suffice to say our efforts are being hampered by the effects of the rains because the rains are still falling.”
Kalaya said the death toll will likely rise, as they expect reports from nine other affected districts.
Chipiliro Khamula, spokesman for Malawi’s Department of Disaster Preparedness, told VOA Monday rescue efforts were underway by police, the military and the Malawi Red Cross.
“We have also set up a national emergency operations center in Limbe to facilitate coordination of preparedness interventions,” Khamula said. “Again we have also stockpiled some relief items at the humanitarian staging area in Bangula, at our Blantyre warehouse, and in some districts for effective and efficient provision of relief items in affected areas.”
Yobu Kachiwanda, spokesperson for Malawi’s Meteorological Department, said the cyclone has started to weaken and is expected to leave Malawi soon.
“Projection is that it is still there in the next 24 to 48 hours, and will go back into Mozambique Channel as usual towards mid-week into the weekend,” Kachiwanda said.
Cyclone Freddy first appeared more than a month ago and is believed to be the longest-lasting storm in the region for the past 20 years. Since February, the cyclone has left scores of people dead across Madagascar and twice-hit Mozambique.
The storm is also expected to hit parts of Zambia and Zimbabwe this week.