Madagascar: Death toll rises after tropical cyclone

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Tropical cyclone Hubert, which struck Madagascar last week, killed at least 36 and injured more than 85 000 people according to latest estimates. The risk of epidemics due to rising sea levels are high.

“Thirty-six people have been killed and about 85 000 affected,” Dia Styvanley Soa, spokesperson for the National Bureau of Risk Management and Disasters (BNGRC) said yesterday. A final assessment of the storm that hit the east coast of Madagascar last week is yet to be made.

Ikongo district, south-east of the island has been the hardest hit, with 15 deaths, followed by Mananjary, where 9 people died. Eight people were also killed in mudslides in the southern African country March 15.

Material damage is considerable. “Many roads have been cut and many communities are now isolated, particularly the province of Fianarantsoa,” said Dia Styvanley Soa.

According to an official report, several towns and villages remained inundated on Monday. Telephones were not operational while electricity supplies were still cut off, especially in the district Ikongo.

Humanitarian workers are struggling to provide relief to victims of the disaster due to the difficult state of roads. “Our biggest problem now is the evacuation of victims,” indicated the National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster. The main hospital at Ikongo is still under flood water.

Faced with a high epidemic risk, as floods worsen, the head of government, Camille Vital has announced that “human lives are in danger,” while appealing for international aid.

But despite threats of sanctions due to political unrest that have rocked the country after Andry Rajoelina’s take over, the country has mobilized efforts to deal with the situation. Organizations such as the UNICEF, the Red Cross and SURECA (Department of emergency response to epidemics and disasters) are in the affected areas with stocks of emergency drugs, food and blankets.

Tropical cyclone Hubert is the first destructive storm to hit the great island since the beginning of the cyclonic season. The cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere runs from October to May. In January 2008, cyclones Fame and Ivan killed 97 people in Madagascar.

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