Madagascar: Cyclone Manou batters eastern provinces
Aid workers told IRIN the number of people affected by the heavy rains had yet to be confirmed, but preliminary reports released by local authorities indicate that almost 90 percent of infrastructure in the small town of Vatomandry, in Toamasina province, had been destroyed.
Earlier this week the country's weather service, Meteo, warned residents along the eastern seaboard to move to safe shelters. However, the storm's size and intensity took authorities by surprise as they had forecast a "moderate tropical storm".
The cyclone was accompanied by average winds of 150 km/h and gusts as strong as 210 km/h.
"It is still too soon to tell what the impact has been, but reports show that the main road between Brickaville and Vatomandry has been washed away, making the area only accessible by air," UN Development Programme officer, Michel Mattera, told IRIN.
He added that communication links have been cut and electric power disrupted.
Meanwhile, local authorities have appealed for medicines to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.
In January, two weeks of heavy rains killed 13 people and left 2,218 homeless in the provinces of Antananarivo and Fianarantsoa. Most of the deaths were caused when houses collapsed.
Cyclone Fari battered the east coast at the end of January, just as the flood waters were receding.
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