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Cyclone Freddy claims more lives as it slams Malawi, Mozambique

BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Authorities in Malawi and Mozambique have confirmed that since Saturday night, when Cyclone Freddy struck southern Africa for a second time, at least 56 people have died in those two countries. According to the local police, 51 people have died in Malawi, 36 of whom were in Chilobwe, a city located in the country's financial center, Blantyre with several others missing or injured. Authorities in Mozambique reported that five people were killed in the country since Saturday. According to a police report, five members of a single family perished in Malawi after their home was destroyed by Freddy's destructive winds and heavy rains in Blantyre's Ndirande township. Authorities also reported that a three-year-old girl whose parents were reported missing was "trapped in the debris" and was also among the victims.

Over the weekend and into Monday, the cyclone tore through Malawi and Mozambique. The destructive cyclone, which has been wreaking havoc in southern Africa since late February, made landfall in mainland Africa for the second time. On its journey across the ocean, it also severely damaged Madagascar and Réunion, two island nations. The cyclone has intensified a record seven times and has the highest-ever recorded accumulated cyclone energy, or ACE, which is a measurement of how much energy a cyclone has released over time. Freddy recorded more energy over its lifetime than an entire typical U.S. hurricane season. Early in February, Freddy formed near Australia and later swept across the entire southern Indian Ocean. It is anticipated to be the longest tropical cyclone in history. The U. N. 's weather service has called a panel of experts to assess whether it has surpassed the record of 31 days set by Hurricane John in 1994. Freddy made landfall in the Mozambican seaport of Quelimane on Saturday where there are reports of damage to houses and farmlands, although the extent of the destruction is not yet clear. Telecommunications and other essential infrastructure are still cut off in much of the affected Zambezia province, impeding rescue and other humanitarian efforts. Much of the damage experienced in Malawi is in homes built in areas prohibited by law such as in mountainous regions or near rivers where they are battling landslides, unprecedented flooding and rivers bursting their banks. The cyclone has forced the Malawian government to suspend schools in 10 districts in its southern region “as a precautionary measure.” Freddy is expected to weaken and to exit back to sea on Wednesday, according to Météo-France.

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“We suspect that this figure will rise as we are trying to compile one national report from our southwest, southeast and eastern police offices which cover the affected areas,” Malawi police spokesperson Peter Kalaya told the AP. French weather agency Météo-France’s regional tropical cyclone monitoring center in Réunion warned Monday that “the heaviest rains will continue over the next 48 hours” as Freddy barrels on. Mozambique’s central provinces and Malawi have been identified as especially vulnerable to “floods and landslides in mountainous areas” by weather monitors.