Tropical storm "Freddy" has led to at least 522 deaths in three countries in southeastern Africa – Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, according to authorities. Most affected is impoverished Malawi, where the death toll rose to 438 on Saturday, according to the civil protection authority.
On Thursday, Malawi's authorities had reported 326 dead. About 345,000 people are affected in the country by the heavy rainfall, floods and landslides. Tens of thousands have become homeless. The government has declared a state of emergency for the most affected region, southern Malawi.
The tropical storm brought more precipitation in southern Malawi in six days as usual in six months and left a trail of devastation in its wake. More than 183,000 people have been made homeless by floods and landslides, according to OCHA. More than 300 emergency shelters have been built.
"Considerable support" needed
Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera said during a visit to the disaster region that his government expects "the picture of destruction and death to become even worse" as soon as access to more areas becomes possible.
The local director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Paul Turnbull, said the country would need "considerable support". Chakwera called for international help. The UN children's fund Unicef warned that the ongoing cholera outbreak in Malawi could be exacerbated by the consequences of the cyclone.
Since last Friday, the cyclone had left a trail of devastation in southeastern Africa for the second time within a month. According to President Filipe Nyusi, at least 67 people died in Mozambique. Also in the island state of Madagascar there were at least 17 dead.
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.