The cyclone devastated southern Africa causing massive displacement of people / Photo: Reuters

The President of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera says the death toll from Cyclone Freddy which hit his country in March has risen sharply to more than 1,000 people.

This is coming as the southern African nation continues to recover from one of the deadliest storms to strike the continent in the last two decades.

Cyclone Freddy left a trail of destruction in its wake after ripping through Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, first in late February before circling back in March.

“This devastating climate-change event has killed over 1,000 people, displaced over half a million, and affected over two million through the washing away of homes, roads, bridges, crops, markets, schools, clothes, businesses, and power lines,” said Chakwera on Wednesday.

Opening the tobacco marketing season in Malawi, a landlocked country, Chakwera said the economic situation no longer remains the same because of the impact of Cyclone Freddy.

He appealed to Malawians to work together as the country recovers from the impact of the disaster which has damaged 405 kilometers (252 miles) of road infrastructure, 63 health facilities, and 500 schools.

Freddy struck Mozambique and Malawi earlier in March for the second time in a month, destroying scores of homes and triggering widespread floods.

Seventy-six deaths were recorded in Mozambique, where more than 33,000 houses were destroyed.

The storm affected over 2 million people and displaced over half a million in Malawi, President Chakwera said.

He did not give an explanation as to why the death toll had jumped from an estimate of more than 500 people on March 20, but hundreds of people were still missing in Malawi in late March.

Freddy developed off the coast of Australia, crossed the entire South Indian Ocean and travelled more than 8,000 km (4,970 miles) before making landfall in Madagascar.

TRT Afrika and agencies