AFP — Cyclone Batsirai killed at least 10 people and displaced nearly 48,000 when it struck Madagascar overnight, the national disaster management agency said on Sunday.
The cyclone later weakened but not before wreaking havoc in the poor Indian Ocean island nation which is still reeling from a deadly tropical storm earlier this year.
It uprooted trees, destroyed buildings and forced residents to weigh down flimsy corrugated iron roofs along its path, AFP correspondents saw.
Batsirai made landfall late Saturday as an “intense tropical cyclone”, packing winds of 165 kilometres (102 miles) per hour, Faly Aritiana Fabien of the country’s disaster management agency told AFP.
However the national meteorological office — which had warned of “significant and widespread damage” — said on Sunday that Batsirai had weakened.
Bodies exposed at cemetery
The waves of the rising sea eroded the sandy hill which was part of a graveyard. Several graves were ripped open, exposing their bodies and some others.
“Daily life is already very hard,” she said, adding the family would be forced to rebury the remains in a temporary grave until they raise enough money for a “proper burial”.
“Mananjary is completely destroyed, no matter where you go everything is destroyed,” said one resident named Faby. Another man, Fana, was certain “almost 95 percent of the city has been destroyed”
The Meteo-France weather service had earlier predicted Batsirai would pose a “very serious threat” to Madagascar, after passing Mauritius and drenching the French island of La Reunion with torrential rain.
Ana affected at least 131,000 people across Madagascar in late January, with nearly 60 people killed, mostly in the capital Antananarivo.
The World Food Programme, citing estimates from national authorities, said around 595,000 people could be directly affected by Batsirai, and 150,000 more might be displaced because of new landslides and flooding.
The former French colony off Africa’s southeastern coast is in the midst of a six-month rainy season that often results in casualties and widespread damage.
And in March 2017, at least 78 people perished in Cyclone Enawo.
Southern parts of Madagascar are reeling from the worst drought in four decades.
“Despite not being responsible for causing climate change, it is Africans who are bearing both the brunt and the cost,” he said.