Police in Malawi will declare 537 missing persons dead after Tropical Storm Freddy unleashed devastation in the country.
The storm saw mudslides sweep through neighbourhoods and bury people in mud.
The head of the disaster management unit, Charles Kalemba, told reporters on Wednesday that chances of finding the missing persons alive were slim after 17 days of searching.
He cited a case where where an entire village was swept away by a mudslide and police using sniffer dogs were unable to rescue anyone. The search operation in the area has been called off, he added.
“There are about 537 people still missing. They would not be alive by now considering that it’s now about 17 days since they went missing,” he told a media briefing.
Troops were still searching for missing people, head of military operations Major General Saiford Kalisha added.
President Lazaraus Chakwera on Tuesday told a virtual summit that the tropical storm killed over 600 Malawians and washed away over 100,000 homes - leaving over half a million people homeless.