Malawi intensifies search and rescue for cyclone victims
Malawi rescue teams started using sniffer
dogs Friday to locate the bodies of people trapped under rubble left after
Cyclone Freddy destroyed their houses. The Malawi government announced that
Zambia has sent two aircraft to help with rescue efforts and more nations are
pledging to do so.
Authorities in Malawi are still coming to
terms with the scale of Cyclone Freddy’s destruction.
Police spokesperson Peter Kalaya told VOA
Friday about the challenges they face locating the remains of people trapped
under muddy rubble, which is why sniffer dogs are an asset.
“Most of the dead bodies are under rubble and
it is becoming difficult to find out where the bodies are. So, today we engaged
these dogs from this morning," Kalaya said.
Early this week, Malawi search and rescue
teams — comprised of police, the Red Cross and the military — were deployed to
rescue people trapped in trees and rooftops by the cyclone.
Lameck Kalenga is deputy chief of military
operations in Malawi.
He told a news conference Thursday that the
military team also faced significant challenges.
“Our boat capsized, and we had all occupants
in that boat submerged in water," Kalenga said. "They managed to
swim, others to the shore but others … they swam on and held on to trees that
were surrounded by water. So, we had like three officers who were surrounded by
water, but by yesterday [Wednesday] all of them were rescued.”
Authorities in Malawi say there are still
many areas that cannot be accessed by either vehicles or boats.
However, the Zambian government Friday sent
two aircraft to help the search and rescue team in Malawi access those
“One of these aircrafts is a relief aid
aircraft, which is bringing relief aid to Malawi," Kalenga said. "And
the other one is [an] MI8 helicopter, which will be used to gain access in
those inaccessible areas. Mainly Mulanje, Phalombe and Nsanje.”
The Department of Disaster Preparedness in
Malawi said search and rescue teams from South Africa, Switzerland, the United
States and the United Kingdom are expected to arrive soon.
In the meantime, Mozambique has also pledged
to assist Malawi with an aircraft.
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