Intense cyclone Freddy lashes Madagascar, kills one

Intense cyclone Freddy lashes Madagascar, kills one

A powerful tropical Cyclone Freddy lashed the eastern coast of Madagascar on Tuesday, killing at least one person as it moved in packing winds of around 130km per hour, officials said.

Intense cyclone Freddy lashes Madagascar, kills one
Twitter: @SAWeatherServic

A 27-year-old man drowned near the port of Mahanoro, to the north of Mananjary before the storm made landfall, according to the country's National Risk Management Office (BNGRC), raising fears of more destruction overnight in one of the world's most impoverished nations.

"All the doors and windows started shaking," said Tahina, who lives close to the ocean in Mananjary.

With her parents and three children, she quit her house to seek shelter in her husband's office.

"Next to us, at least five houses have lost their roofs," Tahina said on the phone.

The storm made landfall at around 1620 GMT, the BNGRC said. "It has weakened further," it said in a statement.

But a BNGRC senior official Faly Aritiana Fabien told AFP that  it remains "one of the strongest cyclones" to hit the large Indian ocean island.

The storm landed north of Mananjary, a coastal town of 25,000 people that remains devastated by last year's Cyclone Batsirai, which killed more than 130 people across the country.

Pascal Salle, from Mananjary, sobbed as he assessed the fresh damage after hardly recovering from last year's cyclone Batsirai.

"I didn't think there was a more powerful cyclone than Batsirai," he said, counting his looses. "My fence is down, my 1000-litre plastic water tank smashed against the neighbour's wall".

A window was ripped off hia house and the garden was trashed into "a sandy field", he said.

"It's a repeat performance. I can't take this every year, it's not possible. Batsirai and Emnati in 2022, Freddy in 2023, ... and who's to say that in 15 days another one won't fall on us?" he said.

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected by Freddy, and the cyclone would then pass through Mozambique and Zimbabwe on the African mainland.

Authorities said the island nation, which is accustomed to cyclones and tropical storms, had put measures in place to minimise loss of lives.

Several regions suspended school classes on Tuesday for the rest of the week, , according to national education ministry. In total, schools in four out of the six provinces have closed.

"As the Malagasy people, we are the most experienced country in terms of cyclones- even last year we experienced nearly six cyclones," said Fabien.

At least 8,000 people were preventatively evacuated in the Mananjary district, he said.

The large Indian Ocean island of Madagascar typically takes several hits during the annual November- April storm season.

- Mozambique next? -

Freddy is the first cyclone, and the second tropical weather system, to hit during the current season, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Flights headed for Madagascar's east coast regions were cancelled.

Freddy passed around 190 km off the coast of the Reunion Island and Mauritius on Monday night without causing major damage.

While authorities in Mauritius on Tuesday lifted a cyclone warning but warned that they remained on alert for heavy rain after the cyclone brushed the island with powerful wind and heavy rain, monitors said.

Last month a powerful storm named Cheneso smashed into northeastern Madagascar bringing heavy winds and triggering downpours that caused extensive flooding, and killed at least 33 people after affecting more than 90,000.

Mozambique was also gearing up as Freddy forecast to barrel across the Mozambican channel on Wednesday evening and hit the southern African country on Friday, according to the United Nations disaster coordination.

The head of the Institute of Disaster Management, Luisa Meque, told local media they "intend to start with the removal of people from risk areas as soon as possible".


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