As the death toll from one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Freddy, surpassed 270 on Wednesday, Malawi and Mozambique raced to rescue survivors.
Relief efforts were hampered over the weekend as Freddy tore into southern Africa for the second time in a month. On Wednesday, heavy rain was still being produced by Freddy.
Malawi’s disaster management department said in a statement that the death toll from the second hit stood at 225, up from 190 on Tuesday, with 707 people injured and 41 missing.
In neighbouring Mozambique at least 21 people had died as of Tuesday, according to the disaster agency.
The overall death toll since Freddy first made landfall in February is now estimated at more than 270 in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Malawi’s army, police, the local Red Cross and other aid agencies were conducting search and rescue operations, with commercial hub Blantyre one of the areas hardest-hit.
Severe flooding and mudslides have swept away homes, broken bridges and destroyed roads. Heavy rain has continued to batter the Mozambican port of Quelimane and surrounding areas.
“Our priority now, as we take stock to what really occurred, is to search and rescue people in most devastated areas. We’ve rescued thousands but thousands more are still unreachable,” said disaster agency spokesperson Paulo Tomas by telephone from Quelimane.
Power supplies in Malawi have been severely disrupted by the storm after the national electricity generation company had to shut down major hydroelectric power stations.