BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) — Authorities are still grappling with the scale of Cyclone Freddy’s devastation in Malawi and Mozambique as of late Saturday, with more than 370 people confirmed dead, several hundred still missing and tens of thousands displaced.
Malawian authorities said on Friday that Freddy had killed at least 326 people, while 200 were still missing. There are hundreds of evacuation centers for survivors across the country. Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera declared 14 days of national mourning on Thursday.
Authorities in Mozambique said at least 53 had been killed since Saturday, and another 50,000 were still displaced. The number of deaths in both countries is expected to continue to rise.
Cyclone Freddy dissipated over land on Wednesday night after making another landfall in Mozambique and then Malawi over the weekend and causing mass devastation in several regions, including Malawi’s financial capital, Blantyre.
“Many areas are inaccessible, limiting the movement of assessment teams and humanitarian aid and life-saving supplies,” said Paul Turnbull, director of the World Food Program in Malawi. “The true extent of the damage will only be revealed after it is assessed.”
Both nations were already dealing with cholera outbreaks before the cyclone hit and there are fears that flooding could exacerbate the spread of water-borne diseases. Mozambique also dealt with Freddy’s first shocks and flooding earlier this year.
Scientists say human-induced climate change has worsened cyclone activity, making them wetter, more intense and more frequent.
Cyclone Freddy has been ravaging southern Africa since the end of February, when it hit Mozambique, Madagascar and Reunion. It then returned to land after regaining power via the Mozambique Channel.
Freddy first developed near Australia in early February, and the World Meteorological Organization convened an expert panel to determine whether it had broken the record for the longest-lasting cyclone ever in recorded history.
Alexandre Nhampossa and Tom Gould contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique. Kabukuru reported from Mombasa, Kenya.
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