Cyclone victims could be buried in ground—Dodma


The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) has written off any possibility of 537 people who are still missing in districts affected by the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Freddy being found alive.

Dodma commissioner Charles Kalemba told the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament Thursday that even after using excavators to sift through the muddy rubble and sniffer dogs, search teams did not find the missing people.

Kalemba’s update to Parliament came less than two months after the cyclone, recorded as the longest-lasting and the strongest in the southern hemisphere, lashed Malawi’s Southern Region, leaving massive devastation in its trail.


“Government and well-wishers used every available tool to search for the missing people but to no avail. So from the advice from experts, probably the people were buried in the landslides,” the Dodma commissioner said.

He added that the notice that there is no hope of finding any survivor means 1,037 people died in the wake of the disaster when those whose bodies were found come into the picture.

The committee’s vice chairperson Ishmael Nkumba said members will visit the affected districts next week.


“We invited Dodma to learn more about how the commission is responding to the impacts of the cyclone. We have heard them and we would want to see for ourselves how survivors are faring,” Nkumba said.

The cyclone displaced more than 650,000 people in Southern Region apart from destroying crucial public infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

It also hit Mozambique and Madagascar but its impacts were worse felt in Malawi.

Dodma said about 2.3 million people in the affected districts lost their crops and livestock.

During Labour Day celebrations last Monday, President Lazarus Chakwera disclosed that the damage that the cyclone left in its trail had been estimated at over $500 million (approximately K518 billion).

Chakwera said though government had immediately released K1.6 billion and received additional support from Malawians, neighbouring countries and development partners for the response, the country still has a shortfall of K107.3 billion to address the humanitarian needs that the affected populations are expected to face until the middle of June.

“In economic terms, Cyclone Freddy alone has sunk more workers into unemployment and poverty, increased their food insecurity and malnutrition and reduced their access to health, education, utility, transport and sanitation services,” the President said.

He added that after the emergency period has passed, experts also estimate that the work of recovery and reconstruction will cost an additional K700 billion, which the country does not have and which is outside the recently passed national budget.

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