Red Cross aid convoy first to reach Madagascan flood victims

A first humanitarian convoy carrying 4,500 kg of relief items reached the flood-affected Madagascan city of Vatomandry yesterday evening by boat, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said today.
The Malagasy Red Cross has sent two water purification units - one capable of producing enough potable water to meet the daily needs of 10,000 people - essential drugs, hygiene articles, high protein biscuits, clothes, tents and tarpaulin for temporary shelter. The aid convoy left the capital, Antananarivo, on Monday.

"Because of the damage to roads between Tamatave and Vatomandry, the aid cargo and a team of trained emergency relief volunteers had to reach the affected area by boat," says Christian Pailler, regional delegate of the Red Cross Indian Ocean Rapid Intervention Platform (PIROI), a French Red Cross disaster response mechanism based in La RĂ©union that was activated immediately.

At least 20 people were killed and 9,000 have been displaced after tropical cyclone Manou hit the eastern coast of Madagascar. Vatomandry was battered by winds of 210 km/hour and drenched with 200 mm of rain in 24 hours. Electricity, telecommunications and water networks are badly damaged and scores of public buildings have been destroyed.

"In Brickaville and Andevoranto, an estimated 95 per cent of the dwellings have been destroyed. Eighty per cent of the rice fields are under water." Pailler added.

The region is totally isolated and the Malagasy Red Cross has expressed serious concerns about the risk of waterborne diseases due to the lack of clean water and proper sanitation.