10 000 displaced as cyclone pounds Madagascar

2017-03-09 16:11
Trees are lashed by strong winds in Sambava, Madagascar, as heavy rains and strong winds from a cyclone hit northeast Madagascar. (AP)

Trees are lashed by strong winds in Sambava, Madagascar, as heavy rains and strong winds from a cyclone hit northeast Madagascar. (AP)

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Antananarivo - More than 10 000 Madagascans have been forced out of their homes over the past 48 hours as tropical cyclone Enawo battered the island, with the death toll rising to five, officials said on Thursday.

Parts of the capital Antananarivo were evacuated overnight as torrential rains hit the city.

The storm hit land in Madagascar's remote northeast on Tuesday, swelling rivers to bursting point and prompting fears of widespread flooding.

In its latest update using data from Wednesday evening, the national disaster management office (BNGC) said there were "10 288 displaced persons in the impacted districts, 12 321 people affected, seven wounded and five deaths".

According to an AFP correspondent, hundreds of people were evacuated from the capital's southern Ampefiloha district on Wednesday and taken to a stadium for safety.

The education ministry also closed down the city's schools as a precaution.

Footage on social media showed flattened trees, flooded roads and corrugated sheeting ripped from roofs.

The Red Cross said the full impact of the storm was not yet known and warned of a severe flooding risk.

But Enawo has weakened, with wind speeds falling to 65km/h hours, down from 290km/h at the height of the storm, the BNGC said, downgrading it to a tropical depression.

In 2012, tropical storm Irina and tropical cyclone Giovanna claimed more than 100 lives in Madagascar.

The Indian Ocean island has suffered severe drought and food shortages since 2015, with the southern region the worst affected.

Read more on:    southern africa  |  madagascar

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