After dumping torrential rain for two days on the French island of Réunion, Batsirai made landfall around 8 p.m. on Saturday.
At least ten people have died and close to 50,000 have been displaced in Madagascar by the passage of the cyclone Batsiraiwhich made landfall on this island in the Indian Ocean on Saturday night, the Malagasy Disaster Management Agency reported on Sunday.
Paolo Emilio Raholinarivo, director of risk management at the Agency, specified the number of dead and their location, in a text message sent to AFP, without providing further details. An official balance recorded 47,888 displaced persons.
This tropical cyclone, which made landfall in Madagascar with winds of 165 km / h and gusts of up to 235 km / h, lost strength, but there are still fears of flooding due to torrential rains, the meteorology institute reported on Sunday. On Sunday, the winds reached 80 km/h on average and the gusts reached 110 km/h, much less than the previous day, according to the same source.
“There is fear of localized or widespread flooding after heavy rains,” but Batsirai it should “go out to sea in the Mozambique Channel in the northern part of Atsimo Andrefana in the afternoon or evening,” this source added.
After having dumped torrential rains for two days on the French island of Réunion, Batsirai made landfall on Saturday around 8:00 p.m. (local time) in the Mananjary district, more than 530 km southeast of the capital, Antananarivo.
The inhabitants prepared themselves with the means available to them on the island, one of the poorest countries in the world, which was already hit by a deadly tropical storm in January, Ana, and which since Friday has been swept by the wind and continuous rains.
Ana, which also affected Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, had caused a hundred deaths (56 of them in Madagascar) and tens of thousands of victims.
“Everything is destroyed”
In the coastal city of Mahanoro (east), Marie Viviane Rasoanandrasana lamented on Sunday the damage caused by the cyclone in the municipal cemetery, where her husband, daughter and stepfather rest. The waves destroyed part of the cemetery and unearthed several bodies, including those of her family. “We are sad (…). We already had damage at home from the cyclone and now this!” said the 54-year-old widow.
The remains of the bodies will be placed in temporary graves until their family can raise enough money for a “proper burial”, he explained.
In Mananjary, epicenter of the cyclone when it hit the island, residents looked at a destroyed city on Sunday. “Mananajary is totally destroyed. Wherever you go, everything is destroyed,” said Faby, a resident.
Another man, Fana, estimates that “nearly 95% of the city has been destroyed. We beg the government to come help us as soon as possible.” In the interior, in Antsirabe (365 km northwest of Mananjary), the wind felled large trees in the city’s public park.
The director of the World Food Program (WFP) for Madagascar, Pasqualina Di Sirio, had anticipated a “major crisis” on the island and said that the cyclone could affect more than 600,000 people, including 150,000 displaced people.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), whose local “teams and partners” are “on alert and deployed in communities”, estimated that a total of 4.4 million people were threatened. somehow because of the storm.
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Every year during the cyclone season (November to April), about ten storms or cyclones cross the southwestern Indian Ocean from east to west.
In 2018, the country had already suffered two storms in a row (cyclones Ava and Eliakim) that left 51 and 20 dead, respectively. And in 2017, Cyclone Enawo killed at least 78 people.
Global warming causes more intense tropical storms and flooding as the atmosphere becomes more humid and the rainy season is interrupted. In fact, southern Madagascar has so far suffered its worst drought in decades.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday that the continent is witnessing “the worst consequences of phenomena associated with global warming, such as droughts, floods and cyclones.” ”.
“Although they are not responsible for climate change, Africans are the first affected and are paying the price,” he added.