Tropical cyclone Batsirai killed at least ten people in Madagascar overnight from Saturday to Sunday, and forced nearly 50,000 people to leave their homes due to the risk of flooding, according to authorities.

• Read also: Powerful cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, fear of “significant and widespread damage”

• Read also: Madagascar: ruined houses and rats after the Ana storm

• Read also: Tropical Storm Ana kills 46 in Madagascar and Mozambique

The head of disaster management in Madagascar, Paolo Emilio Raholinarivo, reported in an SMS to AFP that six people died and nearly 48,000 displaced, according to a provisional report.

Malagasy authorities have previously indicated that the cyclone was losing power, but that flooding was still to be feared.

According to Météo-Madagascar, Batsirai should “go out to sea in the Mozambique Channel at the level of the northern part of Atsimo Andrefana in the afternoon or next night”.

The inhabitants had prepared to cope with the means at their disposal on the island, one of the poorest countries in the world, already hit by a deadly tropical storm in January, Ana, and swept since Friday by the wind and continuous rain.

Waveswept graveyard

In the city of Mahanoro (east), overlooking the sea, Marie Viviane Rasoanandrasana, sitting on the ground, lamented the damage caused by the cyclone in the municipal cemetery where her husband, father-in-law and daughter are buried.

The waves swept away part of the cemetery, digging up several bodies, including those of his family.

“We are sad (…) We have already had damage to the house because of the cyclone. Now this!”, lamented this 54-year-old widow.

“Daily life is already very hard,” she continued, before explaining that the remains would be placed in temporary graves until her family raised enough money for “proper burials”.

In the coastal town of Vatomandry (east), hours before Batsirai’s arrival, more than 200 people had crowded into a room in a Chinese-owned concrete building for protection, with families sleeping on mats or mattresses.

Lack of drinking water

A local official, Thierry Louison Leaby, complained about the lack of drinking water, the supply having been cut before the storm. “People are cooking with dirty water,” he said, fearing an epidemic of diarrhea. “The government absolutely has to help us. We weren’t given anything.”

Outside, dishes and plastic cups collected rainwater pouring from corrugated iron roofs, often reinforced with heavy sandbags or jerry cans.

The director of the World Food Program (WFP) for Madagascar, Pasqualina Di Sirio, said she anticipated “a major crisis” on the Big Island, where the cyclone could affect more than 600,000 people, including 150,000 displaced. “We are very nervous,” she told reporters by videoconference.

Search and rescue teams have been placed on alert, stocks of supplies have been prepared and planes are ready to intervene in support of the humanitarian response.

Every year during the hurricane season (from November to April), about ten storms or cyclones cross the south-west of the Indian Ocean, from east to west.


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