According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), cyclone "Freddy" is on its way to a new record as the most enduring tropical cyclone since records began. By Monday, the death toll from the storm had risen to over 100, including 99 in southeastern Malawi alone. On February 6, the cyclone had formed off the northwest coast of Australia, since then it has continued its destructive march.
After crossing the entire southern Indian Ocean, "Freddy" made landfall, first in Madagascar on 21 February and Mozambique on 24 February, causing severe devastation. In a rare "loop track" he returned to Madagascar last week with even greater power and even more rain, then reached Mozambique again on Saturday evening and finally Malawi early Monday.
Death toll likely to be much higher
In Malawi alone, at least 99 people died, according to the national disaster management agency. In Mozambique, at least four people died in the second passage of the storm, bringing the total death toll to 14. In Madagascar, a total of 17 people lost their lives.
However, the death toll is likely to be much higher, as the transmission of information is currently severely restricted due to damage to infrastructure. Many people are still missing, according to the authorities.
For example, the Mozambiquean port city of Quelimane is still largely cut off from the outside world: roads are interrupted, water and electricity supply are partially affected, Guy Taylor, a local spokesman for the UN children's fund Unicef, told AFP in a telephone conversation.
According to the forecasts, "Freddy" is likely to go out to sea again in the course of the week and weaken in the process.