Cyclones killed 130 in Madagascar: official estimate

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 07 Mar 2000
by Christian Chadefaux

ANTANANARIVO, March 7 (AFP) - Tropical cyclone Gloria and Eline killed 130 in Madagascar, made thousands homeless and left floods, the Indian Ocean island's national rescue committee said Tuesday.

Gloria, which hit Madagascar last weekend but spared neighbouring flood-ravaged Mozambique, killed at least 66 while Eline killed 64 mid-February, said the committee, which was set up by the interior ministry to deal with national catastrophes.

Figures released at the end of February put the number of those killed by Eline at only seven. Tuesday's figures were the first official estimate of damage brought by Gloria.

Many thousands of people had been left homeless and cut off in isolated villages, making it impossible to bring aid or communicate easily to get reliable casualty figures, the committee said.

It gave a total of 10,014 homeless people, with 12,230 isolated in non-accessible villages. More than 500,000 people were now desperately in need of food aid, the committee said.

The worst-hit zones cross a central and northern band of the island, and affect both the western and eastern coasts. Out of the two cyclones, Gloria brought the worst structural damage to the island, battering buildings and roads and bringing down telecommunications.

After the passage of Eline, which brought devastation to flooded Mozambique, there were fears Gloria might cross the 800 kilometres (500 miles) of the Mozambican Channel to deal another blow to the continental African country.

However Gloria was downgraded to a tropical low and looks to have spared Mozambique.

The official estimate followed the one given earlier Tuesday by an official from the UN children's fund UNICEF in Nairobi, who said that 10,000 people had been left homeless by the twin cyclones.

Some 613,000 Madagascans are now suffering severe hardship, Neill Turner, a member of UNICEF's regional emergency unit, said.

Turner said 2,000 children were among those seriously affected by the storms.

Apart from the cyclones and heavy rains, Madagascar has been struck by a cholera epidemic which has killed more than 1,000 people in a year and is still spreading.

cc-jhl/kc/nb AFP

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