The World Meteorological Organization says Hurricane Freddie, which began in February, is likely to be the longest in recorded history.
The death toll in Southeast Africa caused by exceptionally long-lived tropical cyclone Freddie has risen to 522, according to authorities in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Disaster management authorities in Malawi, which was hit hard by the cyclone, said on Saturday that the death toll there had risen to 438. Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, on Thursday declared a 14-day period of national mourning.
There are hundreds of evacuation centers set up across the country for survivors, tens of thousands in Malawi have been left homeless and some 345,000 people have been affected by torrential rains, floods and landslides.
The cyclone left a trail of destruction in southeastern Africa. Neighboring Mozambique and the island nation of Madagascar were also affected.
In Mozambique, at least 67 people have died, according to President Filipe Nyusi, and another 50,000 have been displaced.
The death toll in both countries is expected to continue to rise. At least 17 people were killed on the island of Madagascar.
Cyclone Freddie dissipated over land late Wednesday after making landfall for the second time in Mozambique and then Malawi over the weekend causing widespread devastation in several regions, including Malawi’s financial capital, Blantyre.
Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, from Makanga, an island in Malawi, reported that while rescue services were continuing, they were slow to get people from the flooded islands to the mainland.
“So far, they are [the police services] It reached about 1,300 people, but hundreds more are waiting. They have had to take refuge in trees. “His house has been washed away and they don’t have any food,” Miller said.
She added: “It will certainly be at least a few more days before there is a greater impact in terms of saving people in places like this, which have been very difficult to get to until now.”
Freddy first made landfall on February 21 in Madagascar. From there, the storm moved to Mozambique and then back across the Indian Ocean. On 11 March, she reached Mozambique for the second time and then proceeded to Malawi.
“A lot of areas are inaccessible, restricting the movement of assessment teams, humanitarian relief and life-saving supplies,” said Paul Turnbull, WFP Malawi director. “The true extent of the damage will not be revealed until after the assessments are completed.”
Both countries were already facing cholera outbreaks before the hurricane hit, and there are concerns that flooding could exacerbate the spread of waterborne diseases. Mozambique was also dealing with the first blows and floods of Freddie earlier in the year.
Scientists say human-caused climate change has made hurricanes more active, making them wetter, more intense, and more frequent.
Hurricane Freddy has ravaged South Africa since late February when it hit Mozambique, Madagascar and Reunion. Then she returned to the mainland after regaining her power over the Mozambique Channel.
The World Meteorological Organization convened an expert panel to determine whether Hurricane Freddie broke the record for the longest hurricane in recorded history.
South Africa is currently going through the cyclone season, which can bring heavy rains and storms until March or April.
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