Following the devastation caused by the effects of Cyclone Freddy, that has claimed over 100 lives as of Monday evening — with many missing and injured — President Lazarus Chakwera has declared state of disaster in the affected 10 districts of the Southern Region.
The affected areas are Blantyre City and its district, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba City and its district.
A public notice from the Secretary to the President & Cabinet, Colleen Zamba said Chakwera has constituted the emergency declaration as vested in him under section 32(1) of the Disaster Preparedness & Relief Act (Cap 33:05 of the Laws of Malawi.
She assured the public that “government is already responding to the emergencies, rendering urgent assistance to all affected districts, and appealing to local and international support for all the families affected by this disaster”.
Meanwhile, Southern Region Police public relations officer, Beatrice Mikuwa, told the media that they have recovered 63 bodies in Blantyre City and its surrounding areas following the devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy, saying some of the bodies are being kept at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for relatives identification.
The hard hit affected areas include Chilobwe, Ndirande, Manase, Chileka, Machinjiri, Chigumula, Soche and Bangwe and Mikuwa said the figures will keep changing as the police are still searching for missing persons.
She further said more than 40 houses have been destroyed in Chilobwe alone and figures of those injured hasn’t yet started.
NationOnline quoted Health Minister, Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda visited Queens to access the situation and has since recalled retired health workers to assist in the emergency on top of the support they are getting from partners.
A group of Blantyre residents trending as Malawi Land Rover Defender Club, announced on their Facebook page that they have commenced efforts to help with the rescue and evacuation of people who have been heavily affected by the havoc Cyclone Freddy has and still is causing.
As of Monday evening, they were at Chibowa, a community that borders Chilobwe and Manja, evacuating victims and their properties to a makeshift shelter that the government has set up in Manja.
“The situation is critical and we request more hands tomorrow as we carry on with our efforts to help our fellow countrymen in need,” they said. “We will be at Chichiri Shopping Mall tomorrow morning, collecting items and foodstuffs that will assist to ease the situation of the people affected.”
For more information, and if need to assist, well wishers are encouraged to contact the following numbers:
In the morning, a report from Chilobwe Police Unit by D/S/Inspector Bakili said Chilobwe was affected by a flash flood that cascaded from Soche Hill and one victim was a female child of about three years old.
The strong water flow that exploded from Soche Hill cascaded downhill sweeping away some houses built along the banks of Chimaliro stream in the area of Kharika.
The police rushed to the scene where they spotted the body of the female child which had stuck on the banks of the stream and it is believed her parents might also have been washed away.
The police said they also found three members of the same family who were injured by the said heavy water flow as they tried to escape and they also reported that their 11-year-old daughter Fanny Phiri was missing.
Bakili also reported that one victim identified as Miracle John (13) was found alive half buried in mud but his condition was not good and was also missing his parents as of the time of the reports whose detailed one was to follow.
As Cyclone Freddy caused devastation to nature, property and lives, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) says its infrastructure on the path of the tropical storm has not been spared.
A statement from ESCOM management says they have since set up response teams and a contact desk to receive and attend to emergencies only — “those that can endanger property or life, and not general faults”.
“The emergency response teams will be going out to isolate lines or transformers to safeguard lives and property. We are committed to attending to all emergency faults swiftly.
“Clearance of all general faults will, therefore, pend until the situation improves and we appeal and urge the public to report any electricity emergency situations to these special emergency response contacts that are available 24hrs for immediate action.”
The numbers to call for the emergency faults report are: 0980 206 574; 0980 206 575; 0880 833 425 and 0880 833 421.
The statement continued to say: “We assure our customers and stakeholders that immediately after the cyclone passes through, we will reinforce our teams to swiftly clear the outstanding faults.
“We warn all to treat any ESCOM wires as live to protect loss of live especially in those areas where electricity poles have fallen and wires cut or lying low.”