Africa University 25th Graduation Ceremony
Tropical storm Freddy devastates Southern Africa A road connecting the two cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe collapsed amid the heavy rains. — AP

Tropical Cyclone Freddy hit the coast of Southern Africa for a second time over the weekend, bringing its total death toll to more than 220 people in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.

The month-long storm has broken at least one record and could break two more, meteorologists say.

As climate change causes warmer oceans, heat energy from the water’s surface is fuelling stronger storms.

By Tuesday afternoon, authorities counted 190 people dead in Malawi with hundreds more injured and missing. The official death toll in neighbouring Mozambique stood at 20.

Many of the dead were killed by mudslides in hilly Blantyre, Malawi’s second-biggest city.

Torrential rain swept away thousands of homes and uprooted trees, leaving residents staring in disbelief at huge ravines in the roads and having to clamber across makeshift bridges as the rain continued.

“People have been missing for three days now,” said Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from Blantyre in front of a group of men digging deep into mud to find bodies.

“People are saying it has been up to them to look out for those missing as there hasn’t been any rescue team in this area,” Miller said, adding that police showed up for a short time on Monday to then leave as it was unable to get through the mud.

Almost 60 000 people have been affected, of which about 19 000 were displaced from their homes, Malawi’s government said.

Rasmane Kabore, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in Blantyre, said the most pressing issue was the lack of clean water, which could cause a cholera outbreak.

Malawi last year reported cases of cholera after Cyclone Anna battered the south of the country causing extensive infrastructure damage and disruption of water and sanitation systems. — Al Jazeera

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