The death toll in Madagascar after Cyclone Batsirai hit 120 on Friday night, nearly a week after it crossed the Indian Ocean island. A large majority of these deaths were recorded in the Ikongo district alone, in the east of the country, according to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC).
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Nearly 125,000 people were affected by the torrential rains and gusts of wind up to 165 km / h which first hit the eastern coast on the night of February 5 to 6, before moving inland, causing rivers to overflow into rice fields, which destroyed crops.
pockets of starvation
The island of Madagascar, one of the poorest countries on the planet, had already been hit by tropical storm Ana at the end of January, which killed 55 people, and a large area in the south has been struggling for months with a drought that causes acute malnutrition and pockets of famine. Batsirai left the island on Monday and rescuers have now managed to reach almost all of the affected areas.
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The main concern concerns access to drinking water: humanitarian organizations fear the spread of diarrheal diseases linked to the consumption of polluted water, which could also lead to a resurgence of malaria, according to a UNICEF official.
10,000 hot meals provided
The World Food Program (WFP), which intervenes in particular in the coastal sectors of Mananjary, epicenter of the damage, and Manakara, some 150 km further south, has already provided more than 10,000 hot meals to the victims, announced the UN agency. in a press release. “We are working night and day to ensure that food and basic necessities reach those whose lives have been disrupted by the cyclone”says Pasqualina Disirio, its director in the country.
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“We are seeing serious damage, including the destruction of rice which was due to be harvested in just a few weeks. Cash crops such as cloves, coffee and pepper have also been affected” in these regions whose main income is agricultural, she explained. About ten storms or cyclones cross the southwest Indian Ocean each year during the hurricane season, which runs from November to April.