Malawi – 180,000 Displaced, 200 Still Missing in Cyclone Freddy Floods

As the full extent of the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy becomes clear, disaster authorities in Malawi report a steep increase in the number of fatalities, people missing and people displaced from their homes.

Flooding in Nsanje, Malawi, 16 March 2023. Photo: Malawi Red Cross Society

Around 500,000 people are estimated to be affected by floods, mudslides and wind damage following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Freddy in southern Malawi. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Malawi estimated Cyclone Freddy dumped the equivalent of 6 months of rainfall in 6 days.

Affected areas now include Balaka, Blantyre City and District, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, Phalombe, Thyolo, and Zomba City and District.

Public infrastructure such as schools, health facilities and roads have suffered severe damage. An estimated 40,000 houses have been damaged, destroyed or deemed currently unsafe, forcing over 180,000 people to move from their homes. Over 300 camps have been set up as emergency accommodation. The number of displacements includes around 40,000 people in Chikwawa and over 37,000 in each of the districts of Mulanje and Nsanje.

The Department of Disaster Management Affairs of Malawi (DoDMA) reports that 326 people have now lost their lives. As many as 180 fatalities were reported in Blantyre City and Blantyre District, where mudslides and flooding have been particularly severe. Almost 90 people have died in Mulanje. Almost 800 people have sustained injuries.

DoDMA added that 201 people have been reported missing. Search and rescue efforts are continuing in Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mulanje, Phalombe, and Blantyre districts, where most of the areas are still flooded.

The Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) in Malawi reported that Cyclone Freddy, which reduced into a Low-Pressure Area, has now completely dispersed, and normal rainy season weather conditions will now continue. Most of the affected districts are still receiving light to moderate rains, DoDMA reported.

Map of flooded areas in Malawi after Tropical Cyclone Freddy, March 2023. Image: DoDMA


Flooding in Nsanje, Malawi, 16 March 2023. Photo: Malawi Red Cross Society
Flooding in Nsanje, Malawi, 16 March 2023. Photo: Malawi Red Cross Society