Madagascar Opposition Leaders Arrested In Protest Against Rising Living Costs

Opposition supporters close to former President Marc Ravalomanana gesture as they attempt to gather for a protest in downtown Antananarivo on July 23, 2022. RIJASOLO/ AFP.

 

Police in Madagascar detained two leading members of the main opposition party on Saturday during a protest in the capital against rising living costs and economic hardship.

Several hundred anti-government demonstrators gathered in the centre of Antananarivo in the morning, watched by a heavy military and police presence.

Police said they arrested Rina Randriamasinoro, the secretary general of the opposition Tiako I Madagasikara (TIM) party, and its national coordinator Jean-Claude Rakotonirina following tensions between demonstrators and security forces. The pair were later released.

“They were arrested and placed in police custody because they made comments inciting hatred and public unrest,” Antananarivo’s prefect Angelo Ravelonarivo told AFP.

Inflation has soared to the highest level in decades in many countries, fuelled by the war in Ukraine and the easing of Covid restrictions.

Organisers had wanted to hold the rally inside a warehouse belonging to opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana, but demonstrators arrived to find security forces blocking access to the venue.

Protesters then staged a sit-in outside the building.

Footage shared on social media showed police pulling Randriamasinoro and Rakotonirina from the crowd before taking them away in a police pick-up.

“The rally was authorised yesterday by the prefect and then this morning we discovered the police outside the gate,” said opposition lawmaker Fetra Ralambozafimbololona.

The arrests sparked further remonstrations, with demonstrators vowing not to leave the area until the two men were released — before eventually dispersing in the afternoon.

Randriamasinoro and Rakotonirina were eventually let go early in the evening, a police spokesman said, adding authorities were yet to decide whether to press charges against them.

– ‘We can’t say anything’ –

Protests are rare in the country with the opposition and rights groups accusing the government of President Andry Rajoelina of stifling dissent and rarely allowing demonstrations.

“We can’t say anything anymore,” said Samuel Ravelarison, a 63-year-old accountant attending the rally.

“We came to demonstrate against the high cost of living.”

Ravelonarivo, the prefect, said that while the demonstration had not been banned, he had suggested it be held at a different location away from the city centre.

One of the poorest nations in the world, Madagascar is still reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a series of extreme weather events.

Tropical storms and cyclones have battered the country this year, killing more than 200 people, adding to the damage of a severe drought that has ravaged the island’s south leading to malnutrition and instances of famine.

Rajoelina, 48, first came to power in 2009, ousting Ravalomanana with the backing of the military.

He returned to the presidency in 2019, after beating his predecessor in an election beset by allegations of fraud.

Cyclone Emnati Lashes Madagascar

A tree uprooted and that fell on a public garden in the centre of Antsirabe is seen following the passage of cyclone Batsirai on February 6. 2022. – Cyclone Batsirai killed at least six people and displaced nearly 48,000 when it struck Madagascar overnight, the national disaster management agency said on Sunday. (Photo by RIJASOLO / AFP)

 

Cyclone Emnati overnight lashed the island nation of Madagascar, still reeling from the impact of another cyclone earlier this month, local authorities said Wednesday.

The cyclone “made landfall around 2300 GMT just north of the southeastern district of Manakara,” Faly Aritiana Fabien, a senior official of the National Risk Management Office (BNGRC) told AFP. No casualties have been reported yet.

The storm, which passed just north of Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion, had weakened slightly by the time it reached the eastern coast of Madagascar, but was still packing winds of around 100 kilometres (60 miles) per hour and gusts of 140 km/h, according to Meteo-France.

The cyclone is forecast to exit Madagascar Wednesday night, but authorities are warning of torrential rains.

National Weather forecaster, Meteo-Madagascar warned of strong gusts, heavy rain and widespread flooding around the southern and southeastern districts.

UN agencies had on Tuesday said they were preparing “for the worst”.

Another storm, Cyclone Batsirai struck the island on February 5, affecting some 270,000 people and claiming 121 lives.

At the same time, some 21,000 people still remain displaced from when tropical storm Ana struck in late January.

Another 5,000 were affected last week by tropical storm Dumako.

More than 30,600 people have precautionary been moved to emergency shelters.

One of the poorest countries in the world, the southern region of the large Indian Ocean island country has been ravaged by drought, the worst in 40 years, according to the UN, which blames climate change for the crisis.

The island is prone to numerous storms and cyclones between November and April every year.

Madagascar Cyclone Toll Rises To 80

A tree uprooted and that fell on a public garden in the centre of Antsirabe is seen following the passage of cyclone Batsirai on February 6. 2022. – Cyclone Batsirai killed at least six people and displaced nearly 48,000 when it struck Madagascar overnight, the national disaster management agency said on Sunday. (Photo by RIJASOLO / AFP)

 

The death toll from Tropical Cyclone Batsirai has risen to 80, Madagascar’s authorities said Wednesday, releasing data from the regions hardest-hit by the storm that left bodies buried under their collapsed homes.

The National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) said the toll had jumped from 30 since Tuesday, with 60 of the dead found in Ikongo district, near the east coast of the Indian Ocean island nation.

The BNGRC said that Batsirai, which made landfall on the weekend, had left 94,000 people in need of emergency assistance and forced 60,000 from their homes.

“It’s devastation here,” said Brunelle Razafintsiandrofa, a lawmaker from Ikongo who spoke to AFP by phone.

“Most of the victims died after their homes collapsed.”

Many NGOs and UN agencies have begun to deploy resources and teams to help the victims of the cyclone which brought heavy rain and winds of 165 kilometres (102 miles) per hour.

France sent 60 emergency workers to help set up facilities for purifying drinking water, and to fly drones to assess damage in areas that are difficult to reach even at the best of times.

The tropical cyclone hit Madagascar on Saturday night, on a 150-kilometre long, sparsely populated and agricultural eastern coastal area.

As the cyclone moved inland, it caused flooding that ravaged rice fields in the country’s central “breadbasket”, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.

– Food security ‘seriously affected’ –

German experts have arrived in the country, one of the poorest on the planet, to “support the humanitarian response in the Batsirai passage areas”, the BNGRC said.

Work is underway on the 20 roads and the 17 bridges that were cut and had isolated villages, it added.

“We know for sure that rice fields, that rice crops will be damaged, will be lost,” said Pasqualina DiSirio, director of the World Food Program in the country.

“This is the main crop for Malagasy people and they will be seriously affected in food security in the next three to six months if we don’t do something immediately.”

The UN agency distributed hot meals in Manakara, one of the most affected areas.

Numerous aid organisations, including Action Against Hunger, Handicap International, Save the Children and Medecins du Monde, were mobilised ahead of the cyclone, organising equipment and medicines.

Alongside the aid provided by the government, they provided assistance to the victims: food, primary health care and the distribution of kitchen equipment, blankets, hygiene products.

Some 77 percent of Madagascar’s 28 million people live below the poverty line, and the latest blow comes during a severe drought in the south which has plunged more than a million people into acute malnutrition, some facing famine.

Madagascar was still picking up the pieces after Tropical Storm Ana affected at least 131,000 people across the island late last month, with most of the 55 deaths occurring in the capital Antananarivo.

Ana also hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing dozens of deaths.

Humanitarian Crisis Feared As Cyclone Kills 20 In Madagascar

People have been evacuated from their homes and accommodated in a shelter ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Batsirai, which is expected to hit the east coast of Madagascar in the coming hours in Vatomandry on 5 February 2022. (Photo by LAURE VERNEAU / AFP)

 

Cyclone Batsirai swept out of Madagascar on Monday after killing 20 people, displacing 55,000 and devastating the drought-hit island’s agricultural heartland, leading the UN to warn of a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Madagascar was already reeling from a tropical storm which killed 55 people weeks earlier, and the latest extreme weather event came as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the continent is “bearing both the brunt and the cost” of global warming.

Batsirai made landfall on the Indian Ocean island’s east on Saturday evening bringing heavy rain and winds of 165 kilometres (102 miles) per hour, after drenching the French island of La Reunion.

Jean Benoit Manhes, a representative of UN children’s agency UNICEF in the country, told AFP on Monday that “Batsirai left Madagascar this morning at 7 am (0400 GMT) heading out into the Mozambique Channel.”

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Madagascar’s disaster management agency said that Batsirai had left 20 people dead and forced 55,000 from their homes.

UNICEF warned that many of the victims were likely to be children, which make up more than 50 percent of the country’s population.

The cyclone first hit a sparsely populated agricultural area in the country’s east on Saturday, before later weakening. The eastern city of Mananjary was “completely destroyed,” a resident named Faby said.

– ‘Constant humanitarian crisis’ –

Batsirai then moved west inland, causing flooding that ravaged rice fields in the country’s central “breadbasket,” UNICEF said.

“The impact of the cyclone does not end today, it will last for several months, particularly the impact on agriculture,” Manhes said.

 

A tree uprooted and that fell on a public garden in the centre of Antsirabe is seen following the passage of cyclone Batsirai on February 6. 2022. – Cyclone Batsirai killed at least six people and displaced nearly 48,000 when it struck Madagascar overnight, the national disaster management agency said on Sunday. (Photo by RIJASOLO / AFP)

 

“The roofs of several schools and health centres were blown off” in the affected areas, UNICEF said.

Batsirai spared the capital Antanarivo and the island’s main port Tamatave, which led to a lower death toll than had been initially feared by the authorities and aid organisations, who had warned that nearly 600,000 people could be affected and 140,000 displaced.

Some 77 percent of Madagascar’s population live below the poverty line and the latest blow comes during a severe drought in the south which has plunged more than a million people into acute malnutrition, some facing famine.

The cyclone partly destroyed the main road linking the island’s north and south, “which will make it difficult to provide access and reinforcements to villages, including in drought-hit areas,” Manhes said.

“Madagascar is in a constant humanitarian crisis,” he added.

Some 10,000 people on La Reunion were left without electricity on Sunday, three days after Batsirai passed through the island, injuring 12 people on its path.

Tropical Storm Ana affected at least 131,000 people across Madagascar in late January, with most of the 55 deaths coming in Antananarivo. Ana also hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing dozens of deaths.

South Africa’s President Ramaphosa told a summit of African leaders on Sunday that the continent was “experiencing the worst impacts of phenomena associated with global warming such as droughts, floods and cyclones”.

“Despite not being responsible for causing climate change, it is Africans who are bearing both the brunt and the cost,” he said.

Six Killed, Thousands Displaced In Madagascar Cyclone Batsirai

A tree uprooted and that fell on a public garden in the centre of Antsirabe is seen following the passage of cyclone Batsirai on February 6. 2022.  RIJASOLO / AFP

 

Cyclone Batsirai killed at least six people and displaced nearly 48,000 when it struck Madagascar overnight, the national disaster management agency said on Sunday.

Cyclone Batsirai weakened overnight but not before wreaking havoc in the poor Indian Ocean island nation which is still reeling from a deadly tropical storm earlier this year.

The eastern district of Mananjary was lashed with heavy rains and wind before the cyclone made landfall, forcing local residents to weigh down flimsy corrugated iron roofs, an AFP correspondent saw.

The rain will cause flooding across parts of the country, Madagascar’s meteorological office said on Sunday.

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Batsirai made landfall in Mananjary on Saturday night as an “intense tropical cyclone”, packing winds of 165 kilometres per hour (102 miles per hour), Faly Aritiana Fabien of the country’s disaster management agency told AFP.

His colleague responsible for risk management in the same agency, Paolo Emilio Raholinarivo, listed the numbers of dead and their location in a text message to AFP, but gave no further details.

However the national meteorological office — which had warned of “significant and widespread damage” — said Sunday that “Batsirai has weakened”.

The cyclone’s average wind speed had almost halved to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour), while the strongest gusts had fallen back to 110 km/h from the 235 km/h recorded when it made landfall, Meteo Madagascar said.

 Bodies emerge from cemetery

At a cemetery in the eastern town of Mahanoro, overlooking the sea, Marie Viviane Rasoanandrasana, sat on the ground watching over the bodies of her husband, her father-in-law and her daughter.

The waves of the rising sea eroded the sandy hill which was part of graveyard. Several graves were ripped open and some bodies, including those of her family, were exposed.

“A few days ago the sea was far away, but this morning I was told the waves had washed away part of the cemetery,” the 54-year-old unemployed widow said.

“We are sad,” she said. “We’ve already had damages at home because of the cyclone. Now this!”

“Daily life is already very hard,” she said, adding the family would be forced to rebury the remains in a temporary grave until they raise enough money for a “proper burial”.

“It’s not even a year since I tiled my daughter’s grave,” she said.

 ‘Government must help us’

The Meteo-France weather service had earlier predicted Batsirai would present “a very serious threat” to Madagascar, after passing Mauritius and drenching the French island of La Reunion with torrential rain for two days.

In the hours before the cyclone hit, residents hunkered down in the impoverished country, still recovering from Tropical Storm Ana late last month.

In the eastern coastal town of Vatomandry, more than 200 people were crammed in one room in a Chinese-owned concrete building.

Families slept on mats or mattresses.

Community leader Thierry Louison Leaby lamented the lack of clean water after the water utility company turned off supplies ahead of the cyclone.

“People are cooking with dirty water,” he said, amid fears waterborne bacteria could cause illness.

Plastic dishes and buckets were placed in a line outside to catch rainwater dripping from roofing sheets.

“The government must absolutely help us,” he said.

Residents who chose to remain in their homes used sandbags and yellow jerrycans to buttress their roofs before the storm hit.

At least 131,000 people were affected by Ana across Madagascar in late January. Close to 60 people were killed, mostly in the capital Antananarivo.

Ana also hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing dozens of deaths.

The UN’s World Food Programme pointed to estimates from national authorities that some 595,000 people could be directly affected by Batsirai, and 150,000 more might be displaced due to new landslides and flooding.

The storm poses a risk to at least 4.4 million people in total, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

AFP

Cyclone Batsirai Weakens After Hitting Madagascar, Floods Feared

A man reinforces the roof of his house with sandbags before the arrival of cyclone Batsirai expected to hit the east coast of Madagascar in the coming hours in Vatomandry on 5 February 2022. (Photo by Laure Verneau / AFP)

 

Cyclone Batsirai weakened overnight but floods were still expected due to heavy rain after it hit eastern Madagascar with strong winds, the island’s meteorological office said Sunday.

“Batsirai has weakened,” Meteo Madagascar said, adding that the cyclone’s average wind speed had almost halved to 80 kilometres per hour (50 miles per hour), while the strongest gusts had scaled back to 110 km/h from the 235 km/h recorded when it made landfall on Saturday evening.

The cyclone, the second storm to hit the large Indian Ocean island nation in just a few weeks, was moving westwards at a rate of 19 km/h, the meteorological services said.

But “localised or generalised floods are still feared following the heavy rains,” it said, adding that Batsirai should emerge at sea in the Mozambique Channel later Sunday.

Batsirai made landfall in Mananjary district, more than 530 kilometres (310 miles) southeast of the capital Antananarivo, around 8 pm local time (1700 GMT) Saturday.

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It reached the island as an “intense tropical cyclone”, packing winds of 165 kilometres per hour (102 miles per hour), Faly Aritiana Fabien of the country’s disaster management agency told AFP.

The national meteorological office has said it fears “significant and widespread damage”.

Just an hour and a half after it first hit land, nearly 27,000 people had been counted as displaced from their homes, Fabien said.

He said his office has accommodation sites, food and medical care ready for victims, as well as search and rescue plans already in place.

– ‘Very serious threat’ –

The Meteo-France weather service had earlier predicted Batsirai would present “a very serious threat” to Madagascar, after passing Mauritius and drenching the French island of La Reunion with torrential rain for two days.

In the hours before the cyclone hit, residents hunkered down in the impoverished country, still recovering from the deadly Tropical Storm Ana late last month.

In the eastern coastal town of Vatomandry, more than 200 people were crammed in one room in a Chinese-owned concrete building.

Families slept on mats or mattresses.

Community leader Thierry Louison Leaby lamented the lack of clean water after the water utility company turned off supplies ahead of the cyclone.

“People are cooking with dirty water,” he said, amid fears of a diarrhoea outbreak.

Outside plastic dishes and buckets were placed in a line to catch rainwater dripping from the corrugated roofing sheets.

“The government must absolutely help us. We have not been given anything,” he said.

Residents who chose to remain in their homes used sandbags and yellow jerrycans to buttress their roofs.

– Cyclone still ‘dangerous’ –

Other residents of Vatomandry were stockpiling supplies in preparation for the storm.

“We have been stocking up for a week, rice but also grains because with the electricity cuts we cannot keep meat or fish,” said Odette Nirina, a 65-year-old hotelier in Vatomandry.

“I have also stocked up on coal. Here we are used to cyclones,” she told AFP.

Winds of more than 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour) pummelled Vatomandry on Saturday morning, accompanied by intermittent rain.

The disaster agency said the cyclone was expected to remain “dangerous” as it swept across the large island overnight and in the morning.

Flooding is expected due to excessive rainfall in the east, southeast and central regions of the country, it warned.

The United Nations was ramping up its preparedness with aid agencies, placing rescue aircraft on standby and stockpiling humanitarian supplies.

At least 131,000 people were affected by Ana across Madagascar in late January. Close to 60 people were killed, mostly in the capital Antananarivo.

That storm also hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing dozens of deaths.

The UN’s World Food Programme pointed to estimates from national authorities that some 595,000 people could be directly affected by Batsirai, and 150,000 more might be displaced due to new landslides and flooding.

The storm poses a risk to at least 4.4 million people in one way or another, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

burs-str-sn/dl

Thousands Without Power As Cyclone Winds Hit Mauritius

Strong winds and pouring rain batter the mauritius coastline in Mahebourg a small fishing village on February 2, 2022. (Photo by Laura MOROSOLI / AFP)

 

Thousands of homes were left without power in Mauritius on Wednesday as powerful cyclone winds battered the Indian Ocean island nation.

Tropical cyclone Batsirai passed within about 130 kilometres (80 miles) of the holiday paradise, bringing heavy downpours and winds of around 120 kilometres per hour, with a peak of 151 kilometres per hour recorded in the capital Port Louis.

Life was brought to a standstill, with public transport cancelled, shops and banks shut, and air and sea travel halted.

At least 7,500 homes were without power after the winds knocked down trees onto electricity lines, according to the local electricity board. The telephone network was also disrupted.

The reopening of schools, closed since November because of the spread of the Covid variant Omicron, could not take place as planned.

“Cyclonic conditions will persist on the island until late evening,” said a statement from the weather service.

The French island of Reunion, which lies about 230 kilometres southwest of Mauritius, was on red alert for the likely passage of cyclone Batsirai overnight.

In 2007, two people were killed in Mauritius and nine hurt in Reunion when a cyclone hit the islands.

Tropical storms and torrential rains have also wreaked havoc in southern Africa in recent days, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Tropical Storm Ana claimed the lives of 86 people in Mozambique, Madagascar and Malawi last week.

Five Dead In Gold Mine Collapse In Storm-Hit Mozambique

Mozambique map.

 

Five miners have died after a gold mine collapsed during flooding in central Mozambique’s Manica province, public radio reported Tuesday.

The accident in Sussundenga district, around 170 kilometres (105 miles) west of the provincial capital Beira, occurred on Monday at a mine owned by a group of small-scale self-employed miners.

The head of the mine, Afonso Muagara, blamed the victims for operating during the rainy season when mining is prohibited.

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“Nobody knows why they were there given that no mining activity is allowed when the rain falls,” he said on radio.

Manica province was hit by Tropical Storm Ana, which pummelled the region last week, claiming 86 lives in Mozambique, Madagascar, and Malawi.

AFP

70 Dead From Tropical Storm Ana In Southern Africa

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel.
Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel.

 

The death toll from a storm that struck three southern African countries rose to 70 on Thursday as emergency teams battled to repair damaged infrastructure and help tens of thousands of victims.

Packing torrential rains, Tropical Storm Ana made landfall Monday in Madagascar before ploughing into Mozambique and Malawi.

Rescue workers and authorities across the three countries were still assessing the full extent of the damage.

Madagascar has reported 41 dead, with 18 others killed in Mozambique and 11 in Malawi.

Remnants of the storm have passed over Zimbabwe, but no deaths have been reported there.

In the three hardest-hit countries, tens of thousands of homes were damaged. Some collapsed under the heavy rain, trapping victims in the rubble.

Bridges were washed away by swollen rivers, while livestock drowned and submerged fields, destroying the livelihoods of rural families.

In Madagascar, 110,000 had to flee their homes. In the capital Antananarivo, schools and gyms were turned into emergency shelters.

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“We only brought our most important possessions,” Berthine Razafiarisoa, who sheltered in a gym with his family of 10, told AFP.

In northern and central Mozambique, Ana destroyed 10,000 homes, dozens of schools and hospitals, and downed power lines.

Mozambique’s weather service expects another storm to form over the Indian Ocean in the coming days. Up to six tropical cyclones are expected before the rainy season ends in March.

In neighbouring Malawi, the government declared a state of natural disaster.

Most of the country lost electricity early in the week, after flood waters hit generating stations. Power was restored by Thursday in parts of the country, but parts of the electric grid were destroyed.

“Our priority now is restoring power to health establishments, water treatment distribution systems, and schools,” the national power utility said in a statement.

Southern Africa, and especially Mozambique, has suffered repeated destructive storms in recent years.

Tropical Storm Kills 46 In Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi

People walk through flood water after several houses were affected by rising water following heavy rains in 67 Hectares neighbourhood in Antananarivo on January 24, 2022. RIJASOLO / AFP
People walk through flood water after several houses were affected by rising water following heavy rains in 67 Hectares neighbourhood in Antananarivo on January 24, 2022. RIJASOLO / AFP

 

Tropical storm Ana has killed at least 46 people in Madagascar, and Mozambique along with Malawi, which lost most of its power because of flooding, authorities in the three countries said Tuesday.

The storm, which formed over the east coast of Africa’s largest island Madagascar, has brought heavy rains causing flooding and mudslides in the capital Antananarivo.

The latest report from Madagascar’s disaster management agency on Tuesday showed that 39 people have died and nearly 65,000 have been left homeless since last week.

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Several low-lying districts of the capital remain under high alert and emergency evacuations were launched overnight.

“We are in the process of evacuating people from flooded areas,” John Razafimandimby, rescue unit director in the disaster management agency, told AFP.

After crossing the Indian Ocean, the storm made landfall on mainland Africa on Monday bringing heavy rains and strong winds in Mozambique’s central and northern districts.

Mozambican officials on Tuesday said three people were killed, with at least 49 injured in the province of Zambezia.

More than half a million people have been affected in Zambezia as well as Nampula and Sofala provinces, according to the Mozambican government and UN agencies.

The National Institute for Disaster Risk Management said a clinic and 16 school classrooms were destroyed overnight.

The UN forecasts the storm will cause widespread flooding, displace people and damage infrastructure.

The storm will potentially affect “highly vulnerable populations who have already suffered from previous natural disasters and conflict in northern Mozambique,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an update.

Four people died in neighbouring Malawi, where the storm plunged most parts of the country into darkness overnight after flash floods raised the water levels, forcing the electric company to shut down its generators.

“Our generation depends on water levels, and currently the levels are too high for us to run the machines. It is too risky,” Moses Gwaza, spokesman for the Electricity Generation Company, told AFP.

In an update on Tuesday morning, the company said it was starting to restore power generation.

The Mozambican Meteorological Institute forecasts between four and six cyclones in the region during the current rainy season, which ends in late March.

AFP

Ten Killed By Floods In Madagascar Capital

 

At least 10 people have died in flash floods triggered by torrential rain that battered Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo overnight, an interior ministry official said Tuesday.

“The floods caused landslides and houses collapsed,” Sonia Ray, spokeswoman for the ministry’s disaster management office, told AFP.

Two people have been injured and more than 500 displaced from their homes, according to preliminary figures.

Some 20 districts are on red alert, facing “imminent danger” of flooding.

Rescue teams have been mobilised to evacuate areas at risk, gymnasiums and other temporary shelters are being prepared for the homeless and the authorities are considering closing schools.

Madagascans shared pictures on social media of inundated streets and wooden huts swept away.

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On Monday night, rainfall averaged 100 milimetres (four inches) per hour, Ray said.

The rainfall is expected to peak on Thursday but continue until the end of the month.

The country’s wet-season woes are not yet over.

Weather forecaster Lovandrainy Ratovoharisoa said a cyclone was expected to strike the island’s east coast at the end of the month.

Two years ago heavy rainfall claimed the lives of 26 people dead, while 15 went missing and 90,000 were affected.

Death Toll In Madagascar Shipwreck Rises To 64

Madagascar map.

 

The death toll from a shipwreck off Madagascar’s northeastern coast has risen to at least 64 after 25 more bodies were discovered, maritime authorities said Wednesday.

A wooden vessel, believed to be a cargo ship carrying passengers illegally, sank in the Indian Ocean on Monday with 130 people on board. Five children were among the dead.

Fifty passengers have since been rescued and around 15 remain missing. The search for survivors continues.

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“Twenty-five bodies were found this morning near Sainte-Marie islands, probably due to sea currents, which brings the death total to 64,” gendarmerie general Zafisambatra Ravoavy told AFP.

Maritime authorities said initial investigations suggested the vessel’s engine had a “technical problem”, leaving the boat vulnerable to tidal forces and causing it to run aground on a reef.

A Malagasy government minister who travelled to the disaster scene swam 12 hours to shore on Tuesday after his helicopter crashed off the island nation’s northeastern coast.

AFP