Cyclone Freddy Causes Damage in Madagascar, Heads Towards Mozambique
Cyclone Freddy has caused severe damage in the city of Mananjary in Madagascar, killing four people and affecting over 16,600 Malagasy, with 4,500 homes flooded or damaged. Although the cyclone weakened as it tracked across Madagascar, France’s weather service, Meteo-France, has warned that it could pick up strength as it heads towards the African mainland. Freddy is expected to land in regions between central and southern Mozambique on Friday and could reach Zimbabwe. Mozambique’s government has declared a red alert to prepare for a potential emergency.
Freddy is the first cyclone and the second tropical weather system to hit Madagascar during the current season, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The storm began to brew in the first week of February and is now in its third week trekking across the Indian Ocean. At its height, Freddy was a “supercyclone,” with average wind speeds of 220 kph and gusts of 320 kph.
The UN’s World Food Programme had estimated that more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected. The cyclone coincides with a months-long drought in the southern part of the island that has inflicted widespread hunger. Heavy rain could also hit parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa at the weekend, and most likely Zambia too.
The cyclone comes as Mozambique is already in the middle of its rain season, with saturated soil. Dozens of houses in the central port city of Beira had flooded on Wednesday, and heavy rain could lead to more flooding and potential risks.
Freddy is the largest cyclone in recent years to threaten Madagascar, which typically experiences several storms during the November-April storm season. Although it brought less rain than feared, it still ripped roofs off buildings and flattened rice fields and fruit trees.