The exceptionally long-lasting tropical storm "Freddy" has claimed at least 300 lives in three countries in southeastern Africa – Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, according to authorities. Most affected is impoverished Malawi, where state television station MBC reported 225 deaths on Wednesday.

According to official figures, almost 800 people have been injured due to heavy rainfall, floods and landslides; 37 others are reported missing. At least 20,000 people have become homeless, according to the civil protection authority. The government has declared a state of emergency for the most affected region, southern Malawi.

Trail of devastation

The cyclone has left a trail of devastation in southeastern Africa for the second time in a month since late Friday evening. According to President Filipe Nyusi, at least 67 people died in Mozambique. The number could double as many affected areas are not yet accessible, Nyusi said during an overflight on Wednesday. Also in the island state of Madagascar there were at least 17 dead.

"Freddy" had reached land for the first time on February 21 – in Madagascar. From there, the storm moved on to Mozambique and then back across the Indian Ocean. On 11 March, "Freddy" reached Mozambique and Malawi for the second time.

The storm, which has been raging for more than a month, is likely to be the longest-lasting cyclone since weather records began, according to the World Weather Organization (WMO). "Freddy" was declared a cyclone on February 6. Southern Africa is currently in the cyclone season, which can bring rain and severe storms until March or April.