Strong tropical cyclone hits Madagascar

from Pan African News Agency
Published on 11 Mar 2002
Saint Denis, Reunion (PANA) - Tropical cyclone 'Harry' Sunday morning hit the eastern coast of Madagascar, notably the north- eastern town of Antalaha.
The Reunion meteorological services said the cyclone peaked tropical scales, with winds gusting at more than 310 km/hour and averaging 250 km/hour.

It said the impact on life and property was still not known, since all communication with the northern region was interrupted or out of order.

Harry, considered by meteorologists in the region as of high- intensity, hit southern Antalahaat at 6 a.m. local (3 a.m. GMT), according to the chief forecaster at the Reunion meteorological services, Philippe Caroff.

Based on the analyses of satellite pictures, Caroff said the cyclone, which blew along coast before slightly diverting its course hinterland, consequently losing its intensity and dropping to a speed of 13 km/hour.

All localities in the Province of Antsiranana (ex-Diego-Suarez) at the northern tip of Madagascar have since Saturday been in a state of alert and, due to communication difficulties, it would be another 48 hours before the first reports on the havoc wreaked by the cyclone reach Antanarivo.

Northern Madagascar was last hit by a cyclone in April 2000, when 'Huddah' killed over a hundred people and destroyed vanilla, clove and rice farms, as well as infrastructure.

The Reunion meteorological services are closely monitoring Harry's progress, and expect it brush past the island on Monday evening, "at a distance far enough to spare the island."

However, Reunion had its share of heavy rains that have been falling on the island since Sunday. Over 100 mm of rains were registered in 6 hours.

On Sunday evening, the cyclone, which was still intense and situated 17=B0 south and 50=B06 east, i.e. 660 km away from the Reunion coasts, was advancing south at 15 km/hour.

Pan African News Agency:
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