Two dead in Madagascar flooding

from Agence France-Presse
Published on 11 May 2002
TOAMASINA, Madagascar, May 11 (AFP) - A cyclone that has ripped through Madagascar has killed two people and left much of the Indian Ocean island's main port, Toamasina, under water, town officials said on Saturday.

The two deaths occurred on Friday in the north of the former French colony, home to 40 percent of its 19 million people.

Toamasina on the east coast, the island's second largest city, has been battered by freak storms for three days and by Saturday afternoon its impoverished outskirts were totally under water.

City hall officials said "eighty percent of Toasimina's poorest residents" had been affected by the floods and that the authorities were trying to find places for them to stay.

The city's bus station was also flooded. Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, was battered by an intense typhoon in early March.

Almost two years earlier, in April 2000, Cyclone Hudah killed over 100 people, devastated crops of rice, cloves and vanilla -- one of the island's principal sources of export revenue -- and left hundreds of thousands of people dependent on relief aid.

The latest disaster comes as the country is in the throes of its worst-ever political crisis, with outgoing president Didier Ratsiraka rejecting the December election victory of his bitter foe Marc Ravalomanana.

Ratsiraka has set up his "capital" in Toamasina and his supporters have blockaded roads to the capital Antananarivo to prevent fuel and other vital supplies reaching Ravalomanana's stronghold.

Five of the country's six provinces, including Toamasina, have declared independence from Antananarivo.

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 05/11/2002 14:32:19

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