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Tropical Storm Freddy: Malawi rescue troops spend night on tree-top

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 commercial capital, Blantyre has been worst-affected, with many people dying in landslides in the hilly city.

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

Recalling how he helped rescue a child, Blantyre resident Aaron Ntambo said: "The child was stuck up to her head in the mud. She was crying for help. Even though the water was very strong, we managed to cross and rescue her. It was very difficult but we managed to pull her out."

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 had hampered rescue operations, while helicopters had difficulty flying because of the heavy rains and strong winds.

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


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