Four days after Grace Mastala was forced to flee her home at the foot of the Soche Quarry community at the base of a hill in Malawi’s commercial capital of Blantyre, she is still looking for her 13-year-old son, dead or alive.
Mother and child were separated by Cyclone Freddy, a record-breaking storm that made its way into the southern African country and its eastern neighbour Mozambique last weekend.
As of Thursday, there have been more than 300 documented deaths in both countries and nearly 90,000 people have been displaced as their homes were swept away.
Mastala who works as a housekeeper, was on her way home on Monday at about 11am when mudslides came roaring down Soche Hill, interrupting her journey.
“It was right in front of me, it was scary,” the mother of two recounted to Al Jazeera on Thursday. “Fortunately, some people from the area who were running away managed to grab my daughter but my son was never with them.”
The World Meteorological Organization has said the cyclone which formed in February off the northern coast of Australia before making its way to southeastern Africa, may be the longest lasting storm in the southern hemisphere.
In neighbouring Mozambique, officials report at least 20 people have died since the cyclone made landfall in the port town of Quelimane on Saturday night.