Cyclone Freddy death toll now at 326

Death toll, cyclone

Tropical Cyclone Freddy (TCF), one of the most powerful storms ever to hit southern Africa, has now killed 326 with 796 injured and 201 reported missing in Malawi, the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) said on Thursday evening.

TCF's induced flooding, strong winds and mudslides have also displaced 40,702 households (approximately 183,159 people) with 317 camps set up to accommodate the displaced.

The commercial hub of Blantyre remains the hardest hit district and severe flooding and rains have broken roads and bridges, hampering relief operations.

However, assessments of the actual extent of the damage continue.

Flood survivors sheltering at a camp in Blantyre
Flood survivors sheltering at a camp in Blantyre. Photos by Abel Ikiloni, Mana

"The department [Dodma], humanitarian partners and councils continue to facilitate the provision of relief assistance to affected and displaced households, with search and rescue operations led by the Malawi Defence Force, the Malawi Police Service, the Department of Marine, the Malawi Red Cross Society and communities; underway. 

"Dodma has readily available relief items in strategic places and; in collaboration with humanitarian partners and affected councils, is providing the items for use by displaced and affected communities. The department has  also mobilised a national inter-agency assessment team to support affected councils with assessments to establish the total number of affected people and their immediate needs," said Dodma  in a statement.

President Chakwera speaking to the people who had gathered to see him at Mitawa Primary School-(c) Abel Ikiloni, Mana (1)
President Chakwera gives assurances to people who had gathered at Mitawa Primary School in Chiradzulo Abel Ikiloni, Mana (1)

President Chakwera, has since declared a state of disaster in Southern Malawi, launched an appeal for assistance and declared 14 days of mourning.

"I appeal for more assistance from international partners and donors. This is a national tragedy that has affected every one of us," he said.

Freddy has dumped the equivalent of six months of rainfall in six days on Malawi and neighbouring Mozambique.

About 20 deaths have been reported in Mozambique.

On Sunday the storm struck Mozambique as a cyclone - for the second time in a less than a month - after battering the island nation of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, causing severe destruction.

Experts say climate change is making tropical storms around the world wetter, windier and more intense.