Malawi buries storm victims in flooded graves

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In Malawi, Storm Freddy hasn’t just been taking lives, it has also been hampering efforts to bury the dead.

In the southern village Mtauchira, mourners on Wednesday were forced to scoop water out of freshly dug graves before family members could be laid to rest.

Freddy is one of the deadliest, and longest-lasting, tropical storms to hit Africa in recent years.

Heavy rain has continued. The death toll since landfall last month, across Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, is now over 300. In Mtauchira, at least 32 bodies have been recovered from the mud after a landslide. Eighteen are still missing.

Survivor Tamara Black says many were severely injured as they tried to escape their homes.

“They were rolled away together with stones from the mountain and uprooted trees. What I saw was frightening, something that I have never seen in my life. When I got out of the house, it was as if the sky was moving.” Rain and power outages have been hampering rescue efforts.

Roads have been swept away. Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has declared 14 days of national mourning. He spoke at a funeral in major city Blantyre on Wednesday, saying he was “personally devastated”.

“You feel sad that we are at the receiving end of climatic changes that you know, you feel helpless.”

Chakwera has called for international support for relief efforts, saying more than 80 000 people have been forced from their homes.

The death toll in Malawi from Tropical Cyclone Freddy has jumped to 326, the country’s disaster management agency said on Thursday.