Three dead after cyclone Batsirai causes devastation in southeastern Madagascar
ANTANANARIVO, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Three people were reported dead in southeastern Madagascar on Sunday after cyclone Batsirai made landfall, leaving a trail of devastation including collapsed buildings, power cuts and flooding.
One of the towns badly affected was Nosy Varika on the coast. Most of its buildings were destroyed and the town was cut off from the surrounding area due to flooding, an official said.
Batsirai swept inland late on Saturday, slamming into Madagascar’s eastern coastline with heavy rains and wind speeds of 165 kilometres per hour (103 miles per hour). It was projected it could displace as many as 150,000 people. read more
The damage from the storm system is compounding the destruction wreaked by another cyclone, Ana, which hit the island just two weeks ago, killing 55 people and displacing 130,000 people.
Madagascar state radio reported three people had been killed when their house collapsed in the town of Ambalavao, about 460 km south of the capital Antananarivo, as the storm swept through the area.
At least 47,800 people were displaced, the country’s office of disaster management said on Sunday, adding they were yet to get an accurate tally of the death toll from the cyclone.
“We saw only desolation: uprooted trees, fallen electric poles, roofs torn off by the wind, the city completely under water,” Nirina Rahaingosoa, a resident Fianarantsoa, 420 km south of the capital, told Reuters by phone.
Electricity was knocked out in the town as poles were toppled by the strong gusts of winds that blew all night into Sunday morning, he said.
Willy Raharijaona, technical advisor to the vice president of Madagascar’s Senate, said some parts of the southeast had been cut off from the surrounding areas by flooding.
“It’s as if we had just been bombed. The city of Nosy Varika is almost 95% destroyed,” he said. “The solid houses saw their roofs torn off by the wind The wooden huts have for the most part been destroyed.”
Another resident who gave only one name, Raharijaona, told Reuters even schools and churches that had been preparing to shelter the displaced around Mananjary town in the southeastern region had their roofs torn off.
Elsewhere, in the central Madagascar region of Haute Matsiatra, villagers shovelled mud from a road on Sunday to clear damage from a landslide caused by Batsirai.
Madagascar is still reeling from tropical cyclone Ana that struck the Indian Ocean Island nation on Jan. 22, leaving at least 55 dead from landslides and collapsed buildings and causing widespread flooding.
After ravaging Madagascar, Ana moved west, making landfall in Mozambique and continuing inland to Malawi. A total of 88 people died, including those in Madagascar.