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Cyclone Freddy hits Madagascar, four dead

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar: Powerful tropical cyclone Freddy tore through parts of Madagascar on Wednesday, killing four people on the Indian Ocean island, disaster relief authorities said.

A 27-year-old man drowned in rising sea water on Tuesday just before the storm made landfall with winds of around 130 kilometers per hour.

But on Wednesday, authorities set the toll at four.

According to the country’s National Risk Management Office (BNGRC), 16,600 people have been affected by the storm.

It rained less than feared, but strong winds tore off roofs from buildings and flattened rice paddies and fruit trees.

The storm made landfall north of Mananjary, a coastal town of 25,000 that remained devastated by last year’s Cyclone Batsirai, which killed more than 130 people across Madagascar.

“It’s a dry cyclone compared to Batsirai, so it brought less rain, but the winds were stronger, so infrastructure was badly affected,” Faly Aritiana Fabien, senior risk management officer, told AFP.

“The damage found is almost entirely related to the wind,” said Fabien.

“Can’t take this”

By daybreak, residents of Mananjary were in the streets surveying the damage and salvaging what they could, witnesses said.

Despite thousands of sandbags to reinforce roofs, metal sheets were thrown to the ground by the force of the wind.

The 27-year-old man drowned near the port of Mahanoro north of Mananjary, the BNGRC said.

Fabien said Freddy was “one of the strongest hurricanes” to hit the island, which typically sees multiple lashes during the annual storm season from November to April.

Pascal Salle from Mananjary sobbed as he surveyed the damage after barely recovering from last year’s Cyclone Batsirai.

“I didn’t think there was a stronger cyclone than Batsirai,” he said. “My fence fell, my 1,000 liter plastic water tank smashed into the next wall.”

A window was ripped out of his house and the garden turned into “a sand field,” he said.

“I can’t do this every year, it’s not possible,” he said.

Next Mozambique

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) estimates that more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected by Freddy and that the cyclone will then pass through Mozambique and Zimbabwe on mainland Africa.

Authorities said Madagascar, used to cyclones and tropical storms, was taking measures to minimize the loss of life.

Several regions suspended school classes for the remainder of the week on Tuesday, the education ministry said.

At least 8,000 people have been evacuated in Mananjary district as a precaution but should return to their homes in a day or two.

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

Observers have described Freddy as one of the longest-lasting storms in recent memory, which passed Reunion Island and Mauritius late Monday without causing major damage.

Freddy developed in northwestern Australia and southern Indonesia during the first week of February and is in his third week trekking across the Indian Ocean.

According to the UN Disaster Coordination, Mozambique is expected to be hit directly by Friday, with an estimated 500,000 people affected.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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