Nearly 200 killed in Madagascar cyclone: new toll
According to Monday's toll, 198 people died, 166 are still missing and 216,000 were made homeless by the powerful storm.
The new toll includes for the first time the bodies of 25 people recovered from two boats that sank in the storm.
One hundred of those listed as still missing were from the two vessels, a ferry from the Comoro Islands with 120 people on board and a fishing boat with 15 crewmembers.
Three people survived the sinking of the Comoran ferry, the Samson, with one of them saying she saw the ferry go down.
Four of the fishermen on board the Vega 9 shrimp trawler survived the sinking of that vessel, which capsized during the storm in the mouth of the Betsiboka River, which feeds into the bay of the northwest port of Mahajanga.
Seven bodies have been found from the trawler. Another 18 bodies that have washed ashore are believed to be from the Samson.
The United Nations on Friday made an urgent appeal for international aid for Madagascar, with the representative of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) in Madagascar, Bodo Henze, calling for "8.9 million dollars immediately for three months' aid."
Last week, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said an estimated 700,000 people had been affected by the storm, with 280,000 of them needing emergency aid.
The South African foreign ministry said in Pretoria Monday it was sending a military team, four defence helicopters and a transport plane to help with relief operations in Madagascar, SAPA news agency quoted a statement as saying.
The South African team will also include air traffic controllers, logistics and medical officers as well as foreign ministry officials to coordinate the relief effort, SAPA said.
The four Oryx helicopters and a C130 Hercules plane being depatched would be used in a joint operation with the UN children's agency UNICEF and the UN World Food Programme to deliver food and medicine in areas ravaged by two cyclones -- Gafilo and Elita, which ravaged the island last month.
The mission follows "a request from Madagascar's President Marc Ravalomanana to President Thabo Mbeki," the statement said.
Malagasy Interior Minister General Soja had told a meeting of the emergency services Monday that helicopters from South Africa would arrive on the island Tuesday to help with the aid effort.
"They will help us reach the most isolated zones," he said.
Gafilo ripped across northern Madagascar the weekend of March 7, its winds of up to 180 kilometers (110 miles) per hour devastating the town of Antalaha in the northeast.
Ninety-five percent of houses were destroyed in Antalaha, and rice paddies on the outskirts of Antalaha were destroyed as was much of the vanilla crop.
Northeast Madagascar, where Gafilo first made landfall, is known as the island's vanilla triangle, with much of the world's supply of the aromatic pod being grown and processed here. Many villages in the region are accessible only on foot.
The storm lay stationary in the Mozambique Channel for two days before swirling around and crossing southern Madagascar, its winds significantly weaker and inflicting little damage before heading out to sea on Thursday last week.
Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/22/2004 09:13:18
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