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At least 10 killed as Cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, WFP rushes to help

Christian Fernsby |
At least 10 people have been killed and nearly 48,000 forced from their homes after Cyclone Batsirai struck Madagascar overnight, according to the island country’s office of disaster and risk management.

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Topics: MADAGASCAR   

The agency reported the deaths in a bulletin late on Sunday while state radio said some died when their house collapsed in the town of Ambalavao, about 460km south of the capital Antananarivo.

The cyclone made landfall in Mananjary, with winds of 165 kilometres (103 miles) per hour, uprooting trees, destroying buildings and forcing residents to weigh down flimsy corrugated iron roofs along its path.

Hours after cyclone Batsirai wreaked destruction in eastern Madagascar, the World Food Programme (WFP), was on the ground providing emergency assistance.

WFP staff at the scene report that the coastal town of Mananjary has been completely devastated. Houses have been swept away by the violent winds and access is now only possible by air. Manakara, some 100 km to the south, is also inaccessible by road.

Damage assessments are still ongoing and there are no confirmed casualties. The current estimate that 600,000 people could potentially be affected and 150,000 displaced is likely to increase further as river and canal levels keep rising.

“The floods and bad weather have not only devastated homes and damaged property, but above all they have destroyed the livelihoods and sources of income of the affected families,” said Pasqualina Di Sirio, WFP Country Director in Madagascar. “Affected families, currently in a situation of total destitution, will see their living conditions deteriorate in the absence of urgent assistance until their situation returns to normal.”

To assist those who lost everything to the cyclone, WFP started distributing hot meals to 4,000 evacuated and displaced people in shelters, in coordination with Government authorities. In advance of the cyclone, WFP had pre-positioned 50 metric tons of food stocks, half in Manakara, half in Tamatave, the two main cities in the east/south-east coast, to be able to quickly assist 10,000 people (2,000 households) for ten days.

In the coming days, WFP is planning to set up distributions of food and cash transfers to those in need.


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