Mozambique – Thousands Displaced as Cyclone Freddy Brings Flooding Rain

At least 7 people have died and thousands have been displaced after Tropical Cyclone Freddy made its way across Mozambique.

Prior to reaching Mozambique, the storm caused widespread wind damage and flooding in Madagascar, where authorities reported 7 fatalities, more than 22,000 displaced, around 80,000 affected, and 12,000 houses damaged.

Path of Cyclone Freddy, Southern Africa, February 2023. Image: UNOCHA

Tropical Cyclone Freddy made landfall in Vilankulo District in the Inhambane Province on 24 February with winds of 95 km/h. Freddy then weakened to a tropical storm with recorded winds of 55km/h. The United Nations said Freddy tracked across seven districts in Inhambane (Funhalouro, Govuro, Inhassoro, Mabote, Massinga, Morrumbene, Vilankulo) and one in Gaza (Chigubo), an area where approximately 873,000 people live.

Parts of southern and central Mozambique experienced heavy rainfall and flooding earlier in February, and rivers were already high and soil saturated.

Rainfall brought by Cyclone Freddy has worsened the situation. In 24 hours to 26 February, Vilanculos in Inhambane province recorded 143 mm of rain and Panda District also in Inhambane saw 152.1 mm. In the following 24-hour period, Massangena District in Gaza Province recorded around 200 mm of rain.

On 25 February, the Ministry of Public Works, Housing and Water Resources (MOPHRH) reported the Save, Maputo, Incomati, Limpopo, Pungoé, Zambeze and Rovuma rivers were above alert levels. The risk of severe flooding in the Limpopo river basin, in particular, has been highlighted by the Global Flood Awareness System (GloFAS), which anticipates that floods could be worse than during Cyclone Eloise in 2021.

Rainfall from Cyclone Freddy in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, 24 to 27 February 2023. Image: ECMWF

Displacements and Fatalities in Mozambique

As of 28 February, Mozambique’s disaster authorities reported that the storm has affected over 150,000 people across the provinces of Sofala, Inhambane and Gaza, and also in the city of Maputo.

Seven people have lost their lives and 7 have been injured. Fatalities were reported in Sofala and Inhambane provinces.

Thousands of homes have been damaged and over 1,500 completely destroyed. Twenty-six evacuation centres have been set up in affected provinces. As of 28 February the centres were housing over 7,500 people displaced from their homes.

Cyclone Freddy makes landfall in Vilanculos, in the province of Inhambane in Mozambique. Photo: UNICEF

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