The death toll from Tropical Cyclone Freddy has passed 300 as the body count continues to rise, with authorities in Mozambique and Malawi taking several days to assess the extent of the damage and loss of life.
The storm tore through Southern Africa over the weekend for a second time after first making landfall in late February. It is one of the longest-lasting tropical cyclones ever recorded, and one of the deadliest in Africa in recent years.
At least 53 people have died in Mozambique’s Zambezia province, authorities said late on Wednesday, more than doubling their previous count.
Malawi has reported 225 dead so far, with hundreds more injured and some still missing. The storm had killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before lashing Mozambique for a second time.
Continued rain and power outages have hampered search and rescue efforts this week, as the storm caused severe flooding, sweeping away roads and farms with bodies and houses buried in mud.
Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has called for 14 days of mourning for the victims and the government has pledged $1.5m in assistance even as more than 20,000 households have been displaced by the mudslides and flooding.
But Al Jazeera correspondent Fahmida Miller, reporting from Mulanje on the outskirts of Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial hub, said there was still anger about the lack of rescue services even as hundreds remain missing.
Locals have been organising themselves into groups, retrieving bodies while waiting for help from the authorities.
“There’s no rescue team, no police officer, any government official,” David Phiri, a survivor still searching for four missing family members, told Al Jazeera. “Only ordinary people, people that lost people.”
“We don’t even know what people are going to eat for lunch today or supper,” Yusuf Nthenda, member of parliament for Mulanje West, said. “We have not yet received any relief items as we speak.”