Nearly 200 people are now confirmed dead in Malawi after the devastating tropical cyclone Freddy ripped through southern Africa for the second time in a month.
As the rain continues to fall and overwhelmed rescue workers struggle to find both the dead and survivors in the mud, that death toll is expected to rise.
There has been extensive damage to infrastructure and homes, power and communications are down still in many affected areas, and an estimated 19,000 people have been displaced by the heavy rains that triggered floods and mudslides.
“This whole area was filled with houses,” said Matera resident Steve Panganani pointing to a wasteland of mud and water on a hillside.
“Now people are gone, things are gone, everything is gone, gone down from up there. Down, down. It was a newly created area. There were plenty of houses, but they are all gone.”
The United Nations said the lack of power and communications is hindering aid operations and with most of affected regions still inaccessible, the full extent of the damage remains unknown.
Humanitarian medical care organization, Médecins Sans Frontières, has warned that the region’s hospital is “overwhelmed by the influx of injured people”.
The NGO fears that the number of cholera cases will increase in the country, which is already struggling with the deadliest infectious disease it has ever known.
President Lazarus Chakwera on Tuesday declared a “state of disaster” in the country’s southern region and the now-ravaged commercial capital, Blantyre.
Meteorologists project that Freddy will continue to thump southern Malawi and central Mozambique with extreme rainfall before it exits back to the sea late Wednesday afternoon.