The floods nevertheless devastated the “rice granary” from the center of the island raising fears of a worsening of the humanitarian situation, alerted Unicef.
“Batsirai left Madagascar this morning at 07:00 (04:00 GMT) to go out to the Gulf of Mozambique“, Jean Benoit Manhes, deputy representative of Unicef in Madagascar, told AFP. According to the latest report from the Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC), 20 people were killed and 55,000 had to leave their homes. .
The tropical cyclone had landed overnight from Saturday to Sunday on the east coast of the big island in the Indian Ocean with heavy rains and gusts of wind up to 165 km / h, after hitting the French island Of the reunion. Unicef fears that many victims are children, in a country where they represent more than 50% of the population.
The cyclone first hit a 150 km long sparsely populated and agricultural coastal area. Before heading west inland, causing river floods that devastated the rice paddies of the “rice granary” from Madagascar, in the center of the country, according to Unicef.
“The impact of the cyclone does not end today, it will last several months, especially on the agricultural impact“, warned Mr. Manhes. One of the poorest countries in the world, Madagascar had already been hit a month earlier by a deadly tropical storm, Ana, which had killed 55 people on the island and tens of thousands. of disaster victims.
The capital Antananarivo and the main port of the country Tamatave (north-east) were this time spared by the cyclone, which explains a human toll below what was feared by the authorities and NGOs, who counted on 500,000 people affected and 140,000 displaced.
“The roofs of several hundred schools, health centers were blown” in the affected areas, however, underlines UNICEF for which the balance sheet remains important on an island where 77% of the population lives below the poverty line and affected by a severe drought in the south, which precipitated more than a million people in acute malnutrition with pockets of starvation.
On its way, Batsirai partly destroyed the main road linking the island from north to south, “which will make it difficult to provide access and reinforcement in certain villages, including in drought areas“, alerted Jean-Benoit Manhes, stressing that “Madagascar is in constant humanitarian crisis“.