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At least two dead after Cyclone Belna hits Madagascar

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A picture taken on December 8, 2019 shows the sea and the island of Chissioua Mbouzi off Passamainty on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, where Cyclone Belna is expected to make landfall. – The small French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte announced a red alert as Cyclone Belna closed in on December 8, threatening the French department of quarter of a million people. Two people were killed in Madagascar after Cyclone Belna landed in the northwest of the country, causing heavy flooding and displacing hundreds, local authorities said Tuesday. . (Photo by Ali AL-DAHER / AFP)

Two people were killed in Madagascar after Cyclone Belna landed in the northwest of the country, causing heavy flooding and displacing hundreds, local authorities said Tuesday.

The tropical cyclone hit the impoverished island nation’s Boeny region on Monday after brushing past the island of Mayotte and the Comoros archipelago.

“A child and an elderly person were unable to save themselves” after a dam collapsed, said the head of Madagascar’s National Office for Disaster Risk Management (BNGRC), Elack Andriakaja.

The cyclone brought torrential rain and reached a maximum wind speed of 180 kilometres per hour (112 mph), tearing off roofs and causing widespread damage.

The BNGRC said 1,300 people were displaced in the town of Soalala and 172 — including 120 children — in the port city of Mahajanga.

Both of the deaths reported so far occurred in Soalala, which was flooded after the dam gave way.

“The cyclone will disappear before long but the danger from flooding has not yet been averted,” Andriakaja said, adding that access by air remained “complicated”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has distributed medicines for 1,500 people and supplies will be sent out via boat on Wednesday.

Cyclone Belna bypassed Mayotte on Sunday after initial forecasts put the French island in its direct path.

Neither Mayotte nor the Comoros are reported to have suffered significant damage.

Madagascar, a former French colony off Africa’s southeastern coast, is regularly hit by cyclones and other tropical storms.

Cyclone Ava killed 51 people in January last year, and two months later tropical storm Eliakim displaced around 19,000 inhabitants.


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