ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Cyclone Batsirai killed at least 120 people in Madagascar, the second to hit the Indian Ocean island in just two weeks, triggering floods, bringing down buildings and cutting power, officials said. By Lovasoa Rabary. (Death toll last updated 11 Feb.)
One of the worst-hit towns was Nosy Varika on the east coast where almost 95% of buildings were destroyed “as if we had just been bombed” and floods cut access, an official said.
Cyclone Batsirai swept inland late on Saturday, slamming into the eastern coastline with heavy rain and wind speeds of 165 kph (100 mph). It was projected it could displace as many as 150,000 people.
The damage from the storm compounded the destruction wreaked by Cyclone Ana, which hit the island, with a population of nearly 30 million two weeks ago, killing 55 people and displacing 130,000
Madagascar’s office of disaster and risk management said in a bulletin late on Sunday 10 people had been killed. State radio said some died when their house collapsed in the town of Ambalavao, about 460 km south of the capital Antananarivo.
“We saw only desolation: uprooted trees, fallen electric poles, roofs torn off by the wind, the city completely under water,” Nirina Rahaingosoa, a resident of Fianarantsoa, 420 km south of the capital, told Reuters by phone.
Electricity was knocked out in the town as poles were toppled by gusts of winds that blew all night into Sunday morning, he said.
Willy Raharijaona, technical adviser 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 in the southeast had their roofs torn off.
In the central region of Haute Matsiatra, villagers shovelled mud from a road to clear damage from a landslide caused by Batsirai.
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 were killed.
WATCH Cyclone Batsirai, Madagascar on Sunday 6 February
(Additional reporting by Christophe Van Der Perre and Natasa Bansagi. Writing by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Susan Fenton, Catherine Evans and Nick Macfie)