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Malawi president attends funeral of cyclone victims

An injured survivor of a mudslide who lost almost her whole family sits amongst coffins of her relatives during a mass funeral at Chilobwe township’s Naotcha Primary school   -  
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AMOS GUMULIRA/AFP or licensors


Malawi's president appealed on Wednesday for support as he attended the funeral of some of the victims of Cyclone Freddy in the southern city of Blantyre.

"Malawi is in a state of disaster. What Cyclone Freddy has done is to pull us back even when we were trying to rebuild because of past tragedies. And I appeal to the international community to please look at us with such favor because we need help", Lazarus Chakwera said in an appeal to the international community.

The cyclone has killed at least 225 people in Malawi's southern region including Blantyre, the country's financial hub, according to local authorities.

Another 88,000 people are displaced.

In neighbouring Mozambique, officials say at least 20 people have died since the storm made landfall in the port town of Quelimane on Saturday night.

Over 45,000 people are still holed up in shelters, with about 1,300 square kilometres (800 square miles) still under water, according to the EU's Copernicus satellite system.

Clemence Jobani Dambe, a member of one of the bereaved families, said his family lost 14 relatives to the storm.

“We have been deeply touched by the death of our brother and his wife. He has died along with his five male children. Another male member of our family together with his wife and two children have also passed bringing the number of lost relatives to 14 in our family", said Dambe, a member of one of the bereaved families.

UN Coordinator in Malawi Rebecca Adda-Dontoh described the situation as “unimaginable”.

“There are people who are trapped, we can't access the places, Phalombe and other places. Please, Malawi needs your support”, she added.

Chakwera has declared 14 days of national mourning with flags flying at half-mast for the first seven days.

Freddy was initially projected to exit back to the sea on Wednesday but has since waned and is no longer classed as a tropical cyclone, the United Nations’ weather monitoring center in Réunion said.

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