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Mozambique: Cyclone Freddy kills one, dozens displaced

Tropical cyclone Freddy   -  
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Tropical cyclone Freddy killed at least one person and displaced dozens of others on Saturday night as it returned to Mozambique, according to an initial report from local authorities on Sunday.

Freddy had already killed 10 people in the southern African country during its first passage at the end of February, and 17 in total in Madagascar where it also hit twice, describing a looping trajectory rarely recorded by meteorologists.

"One death has been reported", an elderly person who died when his house collapsed on Saturday, Pio Tameliwa, head of the Zalala district in the central province of Zambezia, which is open to the Mozambique Channel and where the cyclone made landfall with winds averaging 150 km/h, told AFP. More than 70 people were displaced in the area.

"These are only the first reports", said Tameliwa, as the authorities are having difficulties in making a complete assessment of the situation because of the telecommunications cut off by the storm.

More than 100,000 users are without power, according to the public electricity company. A school in the region was completely destroyed.

According to NGOs on the ground, the cyclone caused severe destruction and damaged many houses, especially in the Quelimane area. "The town is without electricity, water and cell phone coverage," said Guy Taylor, a spokesman for UNICEF.

In Beira, in the neighboring coastal province, "the rains are intense (...) and there is a risk of flooding," warned Alcidio Benjamim Pangaia of the NGO ForAfrika.

Freddy should leave Mozambique during the week and weaken, according to forecasts.

If it has already descended to the stage of a tropical storm, it is still causing waves of up to 8 meters and heavy rains, according to the National Institute of Meteorology of Mozambique (Inam).

The phenomenon, atypical, is about to be classified the longest cyclone ever recorded.

Freddy, which formed off the coast of Australia reaching the stage of a storm on February 6, has been raging in the Indian Ocean for 34 days.

"Its very long life is explained by its trajectory from east to west that has never allowed him to evacuate to the southern latitudes, where low pressure systems lose their tropical characteristics," explained to AFP Emmanuel Cloppet, director of Meteo-France for the Indian Ocean.

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