Pope Francis makes appeal for cyclone-hit Malawi
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
"I am close to the people of Malawi, hit in recent days by a very strong cyclone," Pope Francis said during his General Audience on Wednesday morning in the Vatican, as he recalled the destruction perpetrated by Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands more in the landlocked southeastern African nation.
Freddy has been battering Mozambique and Malawi since late last week.
According to the Associated Press, the cyclone, now set to be the longest ever, is expected to move away from land Wednesday, bringing some relief to regions that have been ravaged by torrential rain and powerful winds.
According to local authorities, the storm has killed at least 199 people in Malawi's southern region and within and around Blantyre, the country's financial hub.
Officials say that in neighboring Mozambique, at least 20 people have died since the storm made landfall in the port town of Quelimane on Saturday night.
A regional cyclone monitoring center on the island of Réunion projects that Freddy will move back out to sea by late Wednesday afternoon.
It remains unclear, according to reports, whether the cyclone will dissipate or continue moving away from land after that.
Malawi has been slammed in recent years by various violent cyclones, further damaging its infrastructure and contributing to always-greater poverty.
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