Emergency aid for isolated communities in Madagascar after cyclone

Antananarivo/Johannesburg (dpa) - Emergency relief efforts on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar continued Friday with further food aid deliveries to isolated communities among the estimated 40,000 people left destitute in the wake of two tropical cyclones.

An aircraft from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) dropped some 20 tons of rice beans and sugar on the island's worst affected east coast.

At Ilaka-est, a town about 30 kilometres south of the island's east coast Vatomandry district, aid officials found a community of some 300 people who had been without any real source of food since Cyclone Gloria passed through the district on March 4, WFP representative Heather Hill said.

''The area is considered the worst hit. All the fruit trees were uprooted and rice farms destroyed in that area and people were left with nothing,'' Hill told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Rescue teams on the island believe they are likely to encounter more ''pockets of people in urgent need'' in nearby areas affected by the cyclone, she said.

People in many of the other affected areas, were meanwhile reportedly Friday rebuilding their homes.

Some 40,000 islanders have been affected by the unprecendented weather conditions since mid-February. Almost 32,000 among them have lost their homes, according to the government's National Relief Fund. Estimates on the number of fatalities range from 130 to 150 over the same period.

The United Nations, one of several international and local non-governmental agencies participating in relief efforts, have used 100 of the 881 tons of food it had in stock on the island before the disaster, according to Hill.

A day after WFP officials indicated that they needed at least two more helicopters and a ten-seater aircraft to boost relief efforts, there had been no response Friday, officials said.

United Nations agencies were due to hold discussions at the weekend on the possibility of a long-term aid programme to assist the island in the long run. dpa bve jp

AP-NY-03-17-00 1129EST

Copyright (c) 2000 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/17/2000 11:29:48


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