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25 dead, 21 missing as Madagascar cyclone displaces tens of thousands

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  • Thousands are homeless and 25 dead following Cyclone Cheneso in Madagascar.
  • 21 people are still missing.
  • Cheneso packed winds of between 118km/h and 166km/h.


More than two dozen Madagascans have died and tens of thousands have been left homeless since a severe tropical cyclone made landfall last week and swirled for days off the island’s western coast, official records show.

Cyclone Cheneso smashed into north-eastern Madagascar 10 days ago, bringing strong winds and triggering downpours that have caused extensive flooding.

Over the week it tracked south-eastwards, extending damage to houses, and schools and cutting off several national roads.

Twenty-five people are now known to have died and 21 others are still missing, according to an update from Madagascar’s Office for Risk and Disaster Management on Sunday.

At least 83 181 people have been affected, with nearly 38 000 displaced from their homes.

READ | Tropical Storm Cheneso, ensuing rain kill 16 in Madagascar

More than 23 600 houses were flooded and at least 500 others completely destroyed, the disaster management office said in an earlier update on Friday night.

Cheneso - which temporarily intensified to a tropical cyclone in recent days with winds of 118km/h to 166km/h - "has started to lose its purely tropical characteristic", according to the Southwest Indian Ocean Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre based on the French overseas island of La Reunion.

Residents of the Belle Souvenir neighbourhood try
Residents of the Belle Souvenir neighbourhood try to resume their daily life in their house submerged by water in Sambava, following the passage of Cyclone Cheneso.

Cheneso made landfall on 19 January, packing winds of up to 110km/h.

It is the first tropical storm of the current cyclone season in Southern Africa – which typically runs from November to April – to hit the cyclone-prone large Indian Ocean island.

In recent years, Madagascar and Mozambique have been repeatedly hit by severe storms and cyclones that have destroyed homes, infrastructure and crops and displaced large numbers of people.

In January and February last year, four major storms hit Madagascar, killing at least 138 people, destroying 124,000 homes and displacing about 130,000 people.

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