Chilobwe, Malawi CNN  — 

Tropical Cyclone Freddy has killed at least 326 people after it ripped through southern Malawi, the country’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs told CNN Thursday.

The resulting devastation has left survivors trapped and fighting for survival.

Chilobwe, one of the hardest-hit areas, is a township near the city of Blantyre. Located below a hill, the township saw water gushing down from above on Sunday night.

Authorities say over 30 people from the area have died and dozens remain missing as search and rescue efforts continue.

People could be seen on Monday using shovels, even bare hands, to search for the people in the rubble.

Malawi Defence Force soldiers recover a body of a victim of landslide at Manje informal settlement in Blantyre, southern Malawi, March 16, 2023.
A general view of destruction caused by mudslide as Malawi Defence Force soldiers work to rescue victims in Blantyre, southern Malawi on March 16, 2023.

‘Everything is gone’

Dorothy Wachepa, 39, was sleeping when she woke up to a deafening noise “resembling the sound of an airplane.”

“It was around 12 and I heard the sound accompanied by shouting from people upland,” the mother of four told CNN.

What followed was a torrent of muddy water, accompanied by rocks and trees, sliding down the mountain. All her possessions were washed away.

“Everything is gone. I was doing a small-scale business selling vegetables because my husband died in 2014. I’ve been supporting the children from the little that I have,” she added.

Wachepa said she and her children were lucky to make it out of the house alive.

A total of nine people, including Wachepa’s neighbor and a number of local children, died in the cyclone-induced rains, she told CNN.

Wachepa is one of dozens of people seeking shelter at a local church. She has been left with only a sheet to cover herself and her children from the windy and cold nights.

“We’ve received some blankets and plastic sheets today, so hopefully tonight we will manage to sleep,” Wachepa said.

Community volunteers prepare meals for people who were displaced following heavy rains by tropical Cyclone Freddy in Blantyre, southern Malawi, Thursday, March 16, 2023.
A woman at a displacement center in Blantyre, Malawi Tuesday March 14, 2023.

‘I don’t know what to do now’

Sarah Chinangwa, 25, could not hide her tears as she recounted how six of her loved ones were killed on Sunday night.

“My brother and his two children were asleep when the water came. I live close to them, and I tried to shout for them to come out,” she said.

“They came out and stood at a rock which was at a higher place, but moments later they were all washed away,” she said, adding that her own house was destroyed. “I don’t know what to do now.”