The southern region of Malawi has been hit by Cyclone Freddy, with heavy rains and strong winds on Monday, causing damage to infrastructure such as roads, buildings and electricity lines.
The districts of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe and Zomba have been most affected by the devastation, prompting Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera to declare a state of disaster.
“The situation is very dire. There are many casualties, either wounded, missing or dead, and the numbers will only increase in the coming days,” says Guilherme Botelho, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency project coordinator in Blantyre.
“The Central Hospital in Blantyre is overwhelmed with the influx of casualties coming from different areas, so we have put together a team of nurses and clinical officers to provide medical and logistic support. We are also donating medical supplies and will assess if food needs to be provided to patients,” says Botelho.
According to official numbers, Blantyre district has recorded the highest number of deaths in the country since the cyclone hit. The Central Hospital alone has reported 220 casualties, of which 42 adults and 43 children were pronounced dead on arrival.
The threat of a resurgence of cholera also remains a serious concern as Malawi recently suffered the biggest outbreak the country has seen in its history after tropical storm Ana hit last year.