According to estimates by the national civil protection agency, the death toll from tropical storm Freddy in Malawi is likely to rise to over 1,000. "Seven days have passed and the chances of finding the people trapped in the mud alive are slim," said Charles Kalemba, senior civil protection officer, of the German Press Agency on Tuesday.
The authority has so far confirmed 499 dead, 349 people are still missing. In addition, 1,300 seriously injured people were treated in hospitals. According to Kalemba, around half a million people fled the heavy rains, floods and landslides and found shelter in 530 emergency camps.
The cyclone had left a trail of devastation in south-east Africa for the second time in a month since last week. There were also deaths in neighboring Mozambique and in the island state of Madagascar. "Freddy" 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 March 11, "Freddy" reached Mozambique and Malawi for the second time.
According to the World Weather Organization (WMO), the storm is likely to be the longest-lived cyclone since weather records began. "Freddy" was declared a cyclone on February 6. Southern Africa is currently in cyclone season which can bring rain and severe storms through March or April.