Chakwera, who returned to Malawi on Tuesday after attending a UN conference in Qatar, visited affected areas on Wednesday and declared 14 days of national mourning for those killed by the storm, with flags flying at half-mast for the first seven days.
Malawi’s President Chakwera Appeals for International Aid, Declares 14-Day National Mourning after Cyclone Freddy Leaves Trail of Death and Destruction
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday launched an international appeal for help following the aftermath of the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy, a tropical storm that ripped through the county, triggering landslides that left at least 225 people dead.
Speaking in Malawi’s commercial capital of Blantyre after visiting affected areas of the country, Chakwera said: “Malawi is in a state of disaster. What cyclone Freddy has done is pull us back even when we were trying to rebuild, because of past tragedies.
“And I appeal to the international community to please look at us with such favour. Because we need help, we need help in terms of people that have been rescued, who have lost everything. Needing what is necessary, shelter, clothing, food.”
The president declared 14 days of national mourning for those killed by the storm, with flags flying at half-mast for the first seven days.
It was the second time in less than three weeks that Malawi was battered by cyclone Freddy, which also affected neighbouring Mozambique.
Many people perished in mudslides that swept away homes in the southern city of Blantyre.
Weather conditions were expected to improve as the storm dissipated over land after days of torrential rains, but flood levels remained high in some areas, hampering emergency efforts.
Malawi’s government said at least 225 people were killed with 584 injured and 37 others missing, while authorities in Mozambique reported 21 deaths and 24 injured.
It also said the army and police were leading search and rescue operations, which the Red Cross said would continue for at least another two days.
Almost 59,000 people have been affected across the landlocked country and more than 19,000 displaced, with many now sheltering in schools and churches.
UN Coordinator in Malawi Rebecca Adda-Dontoh described the situation as "unimaginable". "There are people who are trapped, we can't access the places, Phalombe and other places. Please, Malawi needs your support," she added.
Cyclone Freddy, which smashed into Malawi early Monday after sweeping through Mozambique at the weekend, has unofficially broken the World Meteorological Organisation’s benchmark as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record, set in 1994 for a 31-day storm named John.