Tropical Storm Freddy: Malawi troops spend night up tree to escape storm

Two soldiers have spent the night on a tree-top in flood-devastated Malawi to avoid being swept away by the powerful currents of a river below them.

The soldiers were on a mission to rescue flood survivors when their boat capsized, forcing them to swim until they reached a tree.

Southern Malawi has been battered by Tropical Storm Freddy, with 225 people killed and 20,000 displaced.

Rescuers have been using shovels to find survivors buried in mud.

Malawi’s main city, Blantyre, has been worst-affected, with many people, including children, dying in landslides in the hilly city.

Some homes have crumbled into flood waters, while others have been entirely swept away.

“My best friend, her brother, sister and mother went with the mudslide and their bodies have not been found. It’s devastating. You can’t even mourn,” 19-year-old Blantyre resident Fadila Njolomole was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

The government has declared a state of disaster in 10 districts that have been hardest-hit by the storm.

The collapse of roads and bridges has hampered rescue operations, while helicopters have had difficulty flying because of the heavy rains and strong winds, although these have now eased.

The emergency services have been overwhelmed, with the military and police playing a crucial role to rescue communities stranded on higher ground.

The soldiers who took up shelter on a tree-top were on a boat that was despatched on Tuesday to rescue families trapped in a village in Mulanje district, about 80km (50 miles) from Blantyre.



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