Malawi death toll rises to 447 as storm Freddy recovery begins

By Laureen Fagan - 19 March 2023 at 8:02 pm
Malawi death toll rises to 447 as storm Freddy recovery begins

The death toll following tropical storm Freddy has risen to at least 447 in hard-hit Malawi, where President Lazarus Chakwera has declared a two-week period of mourning and closed schools in affected areas through the end of the month.

Another 282 people were still missing as of Saturday, according to Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA). The tragedy followed a deluge of rains associated with the storm, with 400 millimeters to 500mm of rain falling in Blantyre and other southern zones over the space of 72 hours. Many of the fatalities happened in Blantyre, with mudslides destroying homes in the Chilobwe township on the outskirts of the city.

Chakwera has toured the southern African nation in recent days, assessing the damage and assuring Malawians that government aid will meet their needs. He said improvements in the weather meant rescue workers will be able to reach places that have been cut off for a week or more.

Freddy became the longest-lived tropical storm ever recorded after first developing off the North Australian coast and becoming a named storm on February 6. It looped across Madagascar and southeastern Africa twice, making its second landfall near Quelimane in neighboring Mozambique before rains moved into Malawi.

Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) said 17 people had died due to storm impacts there, while at least 20 people died in Mozambique.

Affected nations are monitoring closely for an increase in cholera cases, which has been seen in Mozambique since the storm. Malawi continues to manage one of the worst cholera outbreaks in its history.


Laureen Fagan

Laureen Fagan

Laureen is the editor of Africa Times

Laureen is a freelance journalist creating high-quality, informed content on international affairs, politics and technology. She has worked both in and out of newsrooms since 2000. She is a former paramedic with significant experience in community resilience and nonprofit community development initiatives, and maintains "a passion for action" on sustainability and climate change. She also is trained in conflict resolution and diversity, and has special interests in science and medical reporting, and culture and religion issues. Laureen received her MSJ from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in the United States, and completed additional graduate study in theology at University of Notre Dame. Follow Laureen on Mastodon at

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