Cyclone Freddy hits 10 Districts
Ministry suspends physical classes
By Isaac Salima, Serah Chilora & Richard Chirombo
The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) has warned of a possibility of flooding in the Southern Region districts that are currently experiencing incessant rains due to Tropical Cyclone Freddy.
According to a statement from the department, as of yesterday, the cyclone had a 100 percent likelihood of triggering rains exceeding 150 millimetres, persisting into today and tomorrow.
It cites Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mulanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Neno and Blantyre among areas likely to be impacted.
In this regard, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has announced that it is, in collaboration with various humanitarian partners, coordinating preparedness and response interventions to reduce the impact of the cyclone.
“[We are carrying out activities such as] sensitisation of communities in districts at risk through the use of mobile vans, national and community radio stations and door-to-door services. [We are also involved in] prepositioning of members of the national Search and Rescue (S&R) Team comprising the Malawi Police Service, the Marine Department and the Malawi Red Cross Society.
“The S&R team and equipment have been prepositioned in Nsanje, Bangula and Chikwawa. Standby arrangements have also been made for the deployment of personnel,” a statement from Dodma reads.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has temporarily suspended physical classes in all learning institutions in the Southern Region districts that are currently affected by the cyclone.
In a statement which Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa released Sunday, she said classes have been suspended in 10 districts.
“The Ministry of Education has received expert information from the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services that the direct effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy being experienced in the Southern Region districts of Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Phalombe, Blantyre, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno and Zomba will intensify, with the cyclone expecting to hit the region this evening or tomorrow 13th March 2023 and dying down by Tuesday.
“Therefore, as a precautionary measure, the Ministry of Education is temporarily suspending physical classes in all learning institutions in the aforementioned districts on Monday, 13th March 2023, and Tuesday, 14th March 2023. Further to that, learners in boarding schools are advised to stay indoors, as a measure of safety in order to preserve life,” Mussa says in the statement.
She added that, during the duration of the suspension of physical classes, learners are encouraged to use available online platforms and radio lessons.
“In particular, when physical classes resume on Wednesday, 15th March 2023, teachers are urged to provide remedial lessons to recover the lost time,” the statement reads.
Last week, DCCMS Director Lucy Mtilatila warned that Mulanje, Phalombe, Zomba, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Chikwawa and Nsanje were at risk of suffering damage from the cyclone.
Mtilatila further indicated that the cyclone could extend to Neno and Mwanza.
“The continuous rainfall may be disastrous, which is why the general public has been asked to prepare by, among other things, ensuring that buildings are strong enough to withstand the strong winds and heavy rains so that they can evacuate on time,” she said.
Meanwhile, reports from neighbouring Mozambique indicate that it has suffered some damage due to the natural phenomenon.
According to the BBC, one person died due to cyclone-induced damage which, it said, was being lashed by rain, powerful winds and flooding as Cyclone Freddy made landfall for the second time in a month.
Freddy may become the longest-lasting storm on record, having formed to the north-west of Australia 35 days ago.
Following the reported death of one person yesterday, the death toll has reached at least 28 since the storm first made landfall in the neighbouring country.