Cyclone Fanele hits west coast of Madagascar, affecting thousands

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar A powerful cyclone has hit the west coast of Madagascar destroying buildings, cutting off towns and affecting thousands, officials said Wednesday.

Dia Styvanley Soa of the National Office for Disasters Preparedness said Cyclone Fanele made landfall at dawn in the town of Morondava with rain and winds of up to 210 kilometres an hour.

Morondava, a regional hub and home to about 30,000 people, has been left without water and electricity, Styvanley Soa said.

Flooding in the area is reported to be severe.

More than 9,000 people have been isolated in one district alone where half the land is under water. Casualty figures have not yet been released.

We are very worried, Styvanley Soa said.

She said relief efforts have begun. Five tons of rice as well as supplies of soap, clothes and mosquito nets have been dispatched to the region.

On Monday, a less powerful cyclone skirted Madagascars eastern coast, killing one person and leaving 27 injured and nearly 1,000 homeless.

Forecasters have warned that a warmer-than-average summer in the southern hemisphere could mean stronger storms for cyclone-prone Madagascar this year.

Madagascar lies off the African continent in the main storm path of the Indian Ocean basin. It normally has three or four major cyclones each year. Cyclones Fame, Ivan and Jokwe killed more than 100 in Madagascar in 2008 and affected a further 300,000.

A new disaster management plan put in place this year is expected to yield a quicker response by local authorities and relief packages of tents, water pumps and food have been distributed in advance.

Organizations: National Office for Disasters Preparedness

Geographic location: Madagascar, Morondava, Madagascars eastern Indian Ocean

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