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Now Freddy's Casualties Cross 300


FILE: A tree lays across a street in Quelimane, Mozambique, as Cyclone Freddy made its second hit on Africa. Taken March 12, 2023.

UPDATED WITH MALAWI SEARCH FOR DEAD: MAPUTO - The death toll from Tropical Cyclone Freddy has passed 300 people, with authorities in Mozambique taking several days to assess the extent of the damage and loss of life.

At least 53 people have died in Mozambique's Zambezia province, authorities said late on Wednesday, more than doubling their previous count. The toll is expected to continue to rise, said U.N. children's agency UNICEF.

Malawi has reported 225 dead so far, with hundreds more injured and some still missing. The storm killed about 27 people in Madagascar and Mozambique before lashing Mozambique a second time.

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.

Continued rain and power outages have hampered search and rescue efforts this week as the storm caused severe flooding, swept away roads and left bodies and houses buried in mud.

Lacking sniffer dogs and armed just with shovels, rescuers in storm-ravaged Malawi on Thursday went on a grim hunt for bodies under the rubble.

As the rains ceased for the first time in five days, rescuers dug up decomposing bodies buried under mud and the debris of homes that had been swept away by the storm.

A joint operation by the military and local inhabitants recovered five bodies in Manje, a township around 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of the commercial capital Blantyre, after locals said they had spotted bubbles forming under the muddy rubble.

In a wrecked house half covered in mud, five soldiers and 10 community members used three shovels to unearth the begrimed corpse of a middle-aged man.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has declared 14 days of national mourning and called for international support for relief efforts. He said more than 80,000 people were displaced.

While electricity was starting to come back in Malawi on Thursday, many places affected by the storm had not had running water for a week, including in the second-biggest city, Blantyre.

This report was prepared with data from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.