Cyclone death toll jumps to 111 in Madagascar

February 11, 2022
The tropical cyclone hit Madagascar on Saturday night.
The tropical cyclone hit Madagascar on Saturday night.

ANTANANARIVO — At least 111 people in Madagascar are now known to have died since Cyclone Batsirai hit the Indian Ocean island nearly a week ago.

Many homes simply crumpled in the ferocious winds, leaving around 30,000 people living in emergency shelters, according to the national emergency agency.

Southern African nations were already reeling from January’s Tropical Storm Ana.

Storms are common in this part of the world but the climate crisis has caused them to become more destructive.

It has also worsened drought, which has hit southern Madagascar hard, in turn making the humanitarian response after these storms even more urgent.

In Madagascar, 87 of the 111 deaths resulting from Cyclone Batsirai were in the south-eastern district of Ikongo, the national disaster agency says.

Whereas all 55 people killed by Tropical Storm Ana were in another part of Madagascar further north, Reuters reported.

Many NGOs and UN agencies have begun to deploy resources and teams to help the victims of the cyclone which brought heavy rain and winds of 165 kilometres (102 miles) per hour.

France sent 60 emergency workers to help set up facilities for purifying drinking water, and to fly drones to assess damage in areas that are difficult to reach even at the best of times.

The tropical cyclone hit Madagascar on Saturday night, on a 150-kilometer long, sparsely populated and agricultural eastern coastal area.

As the cyclone moved inland, it caused flooding that ravaged rice fields in the country's central "breadbasket", raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.

German experts have arrived in the country, one of the poorest on the planet, to "support the humanitarian response in the Batsirai passage areas", the BNGRC said.

Work is underway on the 20 roads and the 17 bridges that were cut and had isolated villages, it added.

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"We know for sure that rice fields, that rice crops will be damaged, will be lost," said Pasqualina DiSirio, director of the World Food Program in the country.

"This is the main crop for Malagasy people and they will be seriously affected in food security in the next three to six months if we don't do something immediately."

The UN agency distributed hot meals in Manakara, one of the most affected areas.

The French Red Cross launched an aid appeal, and deployed 87 tonnes of humanitarian aid from its facilities in Madagascar and the nearby French island of Reunion.

— Agencies

February 11, 2022
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