Tropical cyclone hits Madagascar
Southwesterly winds arrived on the Indian Ocean island near the city of Antalaha blowing at 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour, with gusts as high as 180 kilometers per hour, state weather office director Alain Razafimahazo said.
It was expected to cross the north of the island before exiting toward the ocean near the town of Mahajanga by early Monday, he said.
"We know that the winds were very violent, and that the damage will be heavy. But I can't give any figures right now," Lucille Randrianarivelo, secretary of the national rescue center, told AFP.
"We will give more precise details later in the afternoon," she said.
At midday (0900 GMT) the cyclone was localized near the north-central town of Befandriano, heading southwest with winds at 120 kilometers per hour, a national weather service employee told AFP.
Last month, 29 people were killed, 100 injured and 44,000 left homeless by cyclone Elita, according to figures released by the national rescue center. The government of the large island state off Africa's southeast coast has asked for aid.
Madagascar is usually exposed to cyclones between December and March, but the season can be longer. In May 2003, cyclone Manou devastated part of the country, killing 70 people on the east coast.
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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/07/2004 09:15:11
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