© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Satellite imagery shows Tropical Cyclone Freddy approaching Madagascar in this undated satellite handout image obtained February 20, 2023. NASA Worldview/Handout via REUTERS
MAPUTO (Reuters) -Cyclone Freddy pummeled Mozambique on Saturday, killing one person, ripping roofs off houses and triggering a lockdown in one port town, a resident and local media said, two weeks after 27 died when the storm first made landfall.
Freddy, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, started sweeping onshore by 10pm local time (2000 GMT), satellite data showed, after hours of battering the southern African coast with rain.
It was the second time the cyclone has struck the country since it was named after being spotted near Indonesia on Feb. 6.
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“The town is a no-go zone; no shops or businesses open. Everything is closed. We’re locked up,” resident Vania Massingue said by telephone from her house in the port settlement of Quelimane, located in the storm’s path in the central Zambezia province.
“I can see some houses with roofs torn apart, broken windows and the streets flooded. It’s really scary.”
After swirling for 34 days, the weather system is likely to have broken the record for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the previous record was held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994.
State broadcaster TVM said one person died when his house collapsed, and that the power utility had switched off the electricity completely as a precaution. All flights were suspended, it added.
The cyclone is slow-moving, which meteorological experts say means it will pick up more moisture off the sea, bringing heavy rainfall.
Around the world, climate change is making hurricaneswetter, windier and stronger, scientists say. Oceans absorbmuch of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions, and when warmseawater evaporates its heat energy is transferred to theatmosphere, fuelling more destructive storms.
More than 171,000 people were affected after the cycloneswept through southern Mozambique last month, bringing heavyrains and floods that damaged crops and destroyed houses, with OCHA putting its death toll at 27 so far — 10 inMozambique and 17 in Madagascar.
More than half a million people are at risk in Mozambiquethis time, notably in Zambezia, Tete, Sofala and Nampula provinces.
Freddy, which is also expected to hit northeastern Zimbabwe, southeast Zambia and Malawi, has set a record for the highest accumulated cyclone energy, a measure of the storm’s strength over time, of any southern hemisphere storm in history, according to the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.