Madagascar braces for Freddy as Mozambique races to move 70,000 vulnerable people

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Maputo – Tropical cyclone Freddy could hit the Mozambican coast on Wednesday, affecting around 70,000 people in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia and Inhambane, the East African nation’s disaster relief department announced.

According to President of the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) Luisa Meque, 15 places have already been identified to be used as accommodation centres for the victims, Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of these accommodation centres are schools where conditions have been created to shelter those affected, she said.

The weather system will influence the Mozambican central provinces of Zambezia, Sofala, and the southern province of Inhambane, with rains and strong winds accompanied by severe thunderstorms, said Meque.

According to the National Institute of Meteorology, Cyclone Freddy is moving toward eastern Madagascar.

Meque appealed to people to continue to follow the meteorological updates issued by the authorities.

“As soon as possible, we intend to start with the removal of people from areas considered at risk,” she said, adding that the INGD agents are urged to act more quickly and with more precision to avoid high numbers of affected people.

Some five other coastal nations – Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and South Africa – are also vulnerable as Freddy looks set to tear across the Mozambican channel after Wednesday.


The tropical cyclone weakened slightly after brushing Mauritius with powerful winds and heavy rain, monitors said.

Located 500km away, Freddy’s epicentre is expected to make landfall on Madagascar’s eastern coast on Tuesday evening, the UN’s disaster agency OCHA warned.

The storm will be “likely at an intense stage,” packing winds of up to 120km/h, it said.

Freddy passed some 120kms north-east of Mauritius on Monday and 190kms from the French island of La Reunion.

Although expected to have slightly weakened, it will still bring “devastating winds” and “very dangerous conditions,” the French forecaster Meteo-France said.

The storm is likely to land north of Mananjary, a coastal town of 25,000 people that remains devastated by last year’s Cyclone Batsirai, which killed more than 130 people across the country.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected by Freddy, and the cyclone would pass through Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The large Indian Ocean island typically takes several hits during the November- April storm season.

Freddy is the first cyclone, and the second tropical weather system, to hit during the current season, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Flights headed for Madagascar’s eastern coast regions were cancelled, a journalist in the capital Madagascar reported.

Locals in the coastal region told AFP by phone that they were busy reinforcing roofs with sandbags to prevent them from being blown away.

Since Sunday, the authorities driving all-terrain vehicles equipped with loudhailers have been driving around urging people to seek safety. Women and children had started to move into schools and other shelters.

Mauritius spared

The authorities in Mauritius lifted a cyclone warning on Tuesday but warned that they remained on alert for heavy rain.

The lifting of the warning enabled government offices to re-open and shops, banks and public transport to resume services.

The international airport began operating again as of 8am, according to aviation authorities.

Last month, a powerful storm named Cheneso smashed into north-eastern Madagascar bringing heavy winds and triggering downpours that caused extensive flooding that killed at least 33 people and affected more than 90,000 others.

Reunion Island

Freddy passed around 190km off the coast of the Reunion Island Monday night without causing major damage, although about a quarter of households were without electricity Tuesday morning.

Authorities there lifted the storm alert early Tuesday.

The island’s Roland-Garros international airport reopened Tuesday morning after it closed on Monday afternoon.