BLANTYRE, Malawi — Authorities are still grappling with the extent of the destruction caused by Cyclone Freddy in Malawi and Mozambique since late Saturday, with over 370 people confirmed dead, several hundred still missing and tens of thousands displaced became.
On Friday, Malawian authorities said Freddy had killed at least 326 people, with 200 still missing. There are hundreds of evacuation centers for survivors across the country. Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera declared a 14-day national mourning on Thursday.
In Mozambique, authorities said at least 53 people have been killed and 50,000 others displaced since Saturday. The death toll is expected to continue rising in both countries.
Cyclone Freddy broke overland late Wednesday after making a second landfall in Mozambique and then Malawi over the weekend, wreaking mass devastation in several regions including Malawi’s financial capital Blantyre.
“Many areas are inaccessible, restricting the movement of assessment and humanitarian teams 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 the assessment is complete.”
Both nations were already facing cholera outbreaks prior to the cyclone’s arrival, and there are fears the flooding could exacerbate the spread of waterborne diseases. Mozambique also struggled with Freddy’s first beatings and flooding earlier in the year.
PHOTOS: Death toll rises, locals pick up pieces after Cyclone Freddy
Scientists say human-caused climate change has worsened cyclone activity, making them wetter, more intense, and more frequent.
Cyclone Freddy has devastated southern Africa since late February when it struck Mozambique, Madagascar and Réunion. It then returned to the mainland after regaining strength over the Mozambique Channel.
Freddy first developed near Australia in early February, and the World Meteorological Organization has convened an expert panel to determine if it has broken the record for the longest-ever cyclone.
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