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Malawi Declares 14 Days of Mourning for Cyclone Victims

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Blantyre, Malawi — Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has declared two weeks of national mourning for the more than 200 people killed by Cyclone Freddy this week. In a televised address Wednesday night, Chakwera also ordered all flags to fly at half-staff for the first week. Chakwera announced he would head efforts to assist Malawians affected by the record storm.

Chakwera said the decision to declare a 14-day period of mourning came after he witnessed the scale of devastation from the cyclone — one of the longest-lasting tropical storms on record — and the agony victims went through to save their lives.

He asked Malawians not to lose hope.

“Even so, we cannot afford to mourn while being passive,” he said. “Ours must be an active mourning accompanied by action. Our immediate action, which I am here for in the southern region to coordinate, will be focused on four objectives. One, the actions that I am now coordinating from here are to ensure that all those we have lost are given a proper and dignified burial. And all those that are missing are accounted for.”

Chakwera also said he will make sure that all those who are stranded and trapped are brought to safety.

Additionally, he announced that at an emergency Cabinet meeting he held Wednesday evening, officials authorized the release of about $1.6 million to assist the thousands of Malawians who were badly affected by the storm.

Chakwera, however, noted that money was not enough, and appealed for global support to assist the thousands of people now in evacuation camps.