Tragedy has struck Malawi as Cyclone Freddy caused devastation across the southern region of the country.

According to the Commissioner for Disaster Management Affairs, Charles Kalemba, at least 99 people have died, with the majority of the deaths occurring in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital. Kalemba warned that the number of fatalities and injuries could increase as rescue efforts continue.

Malawi’s government has declared a “state of disaster” in the affected areas, with President Lazarus Chakwera expressing grave concern for the devastation caused by the cyclone. The government has already started to provide urgent assistance to all affected districts and is appealing for local and international support for families affected by this disaster.

Schools in 10 of the worst-affected districts will remain closed until Wednesday, according to a statement from Malawi’s education ministry. The storm has also caused road inundations and blackouts in the worst-affected areas.

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Kalemba described the rescue efforts as “tough” due to the continuing rains, flash floods, landslides, and stones rolling down hills, which have hampered the rescue efforts. The cyclone has also struck neighboring Mozambique and Madagascar, killing more than 20 people and displacing thousands of others across both countries.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has called Cyclone Freddy a “very rare” storm and has warned of its incredible and dangerous journey so far.

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