Madagascar

Cyclone kills 13, destroys homes in Madagascar

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ANTANANARIVO, April 4 (Reuters) - Powerful Cyclone Hudah killed at least 13 people and caused heavy damage when it tore through Madagascar over the weekend, officials said on Tuesday.

State-owned Radio Madagascar said that at least 11 people were killed in the northeastern coastal town of Maroantsetra and another two in nearby Antalaha, which is the centre of the Indian Ocean island's vanilla industry.

After leaving Madagascar, the powerful storm headed into the Mozambique Channel that separates the giant island from the African mainland. Forecasters said the cyclone was expected to reach Mozambique, still reeling from massive flooding during earlier storms, on Wednesday morning.

Officials at the National Relief Committee (CNS) said that some 50,000 people were left homeless in Madagascar when Hudah raced in from the Indian Ocean on Sunday night and that up to 100,000 people were believed to be without food or drinking water.

The cyclone's winds reached up to 300 kph (180 mph) and most of its victims were killed by falling trees.

Several villages were cut off by flood water, landslides and fallen trees. Emergency officials were set to fly over the region on Tuesday to evaluate the extent of the damage.

The CNS said that more than 90 percent of Antalaha had been destroyed but foreign aid workers said most of the residents affected would be able to rebuild their wooden homes fairly quickly.

Nine inmates escaped from a prison in the town when it was destroyed by Hudah.

The cyclone left the island on Monday and headed out into the Mozambique Channel towards Mozambique, which was devastated by cyclones Eline and Gloria in recent weeks.

Meteorologists said Hudah had lost some of its power but could regain strength in the Mozambique Channel before reaching the coast of northern Mozambique on Wednesday morning.

Southern areas of Mozambique were devastated by flooding in late February and early March with about 700 people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

Cyclones Eline and Gloria also caused heavy damage in Madagascar, killing an estimated 150 people and stranding tens of thousands more.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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