Malawi turns to Zambia Defence Force for cyclone rescue mission

Malawi Government has turned to neighbouring Zambia for their defence force to reinforce Malawi Defence Force rescue mission on victims of Cyclone Freddy which wrecked havoc since Friday last week in the Southern Region districts of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Nsanje, halombe, Thyolo and Zomba.

Minister of Defence Harry Mkandawire made the remarks in Chilobwe on Wednesday after President Lazarus Chakwera visited a number of sites such as Chilobwe, Naotcha, Manja and Machinjiri where the victims are camping in Blantyre.

Defence Minister Harry Mkandawire

He said they have asked the Zambian government to provide helicopters as some areas are impassable and cannot be accessed due to the damaged roads as well and bridges.

“We requested our Zambian counterparts to assist us with the rescue operation. We need to work together in this mission, especially that we need equipment such as helicopters to assist us in reaching out to the people in hard to reach areas,” said Mkandawire.

Among others, Makhanga in Nsanje has been cut off after Ruo River burst its banks, rendering hundreds destitute. The stranded were reported to have sought refuge at a graveyard.

In Mulanje, another lace Malonda Village in Traditional Authority can also not be accessed due to the damaged roads and bridges, according to former Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP).

Meanwhile, the minister also disclosed that the three Marine Defence Force, who went missing alongside a civilian, have been found alive. A crew of five including four soldiers got stranded after the engine of the boat they boarded at Nkando Trading Centre in Mulanje to rescue 100 people who sought refuge on the rooftop of a filling station.

But the two soldiers and a civilian found their way to the land while Mkandawire said the soldiers fought their way to land safely.

The development comes amid a lack of equipment to use in the rescue operation.

When Malawi Defence Force soldiers joined Minister of Water and Sanitation on Sunday in the wake of an avalanche that swept through Chilobwe Township which registered the highest  number 125 of the 225 deaths reported as of Tuesday.

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