The aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Freddy has led to an increasing death toll of over 300, with authorities in Mozambique and Malawi taking several days to fully comprehend the extent of the damage and loss of life.
The cyclone made its second landfall in Southern Africa over the weekend, following its first occurrence in late February, making it one of the deadliest in Africa in recent years.
Mozambique’s Zambezia province has seen a surge in fatalities with at least 53 people losing their lives as per the authorities’ revised report on Wednesday, doubling the previous count.
Malawi has reported 225 deaths, and numerous people have been injured, with some still missing. The cyclone had already claimed the lives of 27 individuals in Madagascar and Mozambique before reemerging for a second time.
Despite the government’s pledge of $1.5m in assistance, search and rescue efforts have been hampered by continuous rainfall and power outages. The flooding has caused severe damage, sweeping away roads, farms, and houses, with numerous bodies and homes buried in mud.
Malawian President, Lazarus Chakwera, has declared a 14-day mourning period for the victims, and more than 20,000 households have been displaced due to the mudslides and flooding.
Speaking to CNN, Dorothy Wachepa, a mother of four, said she woke up to a deafening noise “resembling the sound of an aeroplane.”
“It was around 12 and I heard the sound accompanied by shouting from people upland,” she said.
What followed was a torrent of muddy water, accompanied by rocks and trees, sliding down the mountain. All her possessions were washed away.
“Everything is gone. I was doing a small-scale business selling vegetables because my husband died in 2014. I’ve been supporting the children from the little that I have,” she added, reported CNN.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences over the loss of lives in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar from Cyclone Freddy.
He said India stands with the people of the affected countries in tough times.
On Tuesday, the Malawi Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change said the cyclone was “weakening but will continue to cause torrential rains associated with windy conditions in most parts of Southern Malawi districts”.
“The threat of heavy flooding and damaging winds remains very high,” the weather report said.
In Mozambique, at least 10 people were killed and 13 injured in the Zambezia province, CNN reported, citing state broadcaster Radio Mozambique.
Cyclone Freddy has broken records for the longest-lasting storm of its kind after making landfall in Mozambique for a second time, more than two weeks after the first.