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Cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, leaving 10 dead

A cyclone has killed at least 10 people in southeastern Madagascar, the second to hit the Indian Ocean island in just two weeks. 

 

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 February 5, slamming into the eastern coastline with heavy rain and wind speeds of 165 kph (100 mph). 

 

The damage from the storm compounded the destruction wreaked by Cyclone Ana, which hit the island, with a population of nearly 30m, 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 460km 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, 420km south of Antananarivo, 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, the technical adviser to the vice-president of Madagascar’s Senate, said some parts of the south-east 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.“

 

Cyclone Ana struck the Indian Ocean Island nation on 22 January, leaving at least 55 dead from landslides and collapsed buildings and causing widespread flooding.

 

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