United Nations and France come to the aid of flooded Madagascar

Johanneburg (dpa) - Relief efforts in the badly flooded Indian Ocean island of Madagascar are expected to intensify with the arrival of further United Nations food aid and additional rescue personnel Tuesday, officials from the agency's World Food Programme said Monday.

It is estimated that of the 560,000 people affected by the flooding, more than 130 have died and at least 10,000 have lost their homes on the island off the southeast coast of Africa.

Thousands of islanders are stranded without essential supplies in more than 100 villages and cities still isolated as a result of the floods, according to aid workers.

The areas worst hit by the flooding, which occured in the wake of a tropical cyclone on February 17 and a tropical storm on March 4, are in the northern and central parts of the island's east coast and the Belo-Tsiribihina and Morondava areas on in the west.

''We are expecting one of our aircraft carrying food to arrive from Mozambique tomorrow and at the same time pilots from the French navy will also be assisting with relief flights here,'' WFP representative Wagdi Othman told Deutsche Presse Agentur, dpa from the capital Antananarivo Monday.

French aircraft carrier Jeanne d'Arc on Monday anchored at Antsiranana in northern Madagascar with a cargo of six helicopters and 27 tons of humanitarian aid.

France also deployed a Transall plane from the island of Reunion to boost humanitarian efforts in Madagascar, which has taken a back seat to a parallel tragedy in Mozambique.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) meanwhile, in a statement released in Johannesburg, said it was difficult to reach island flood victims with food supplies because of the damage to roads and bridges.

The agency, which has food stocks on the island, hopes to provide at least 400 tons of food aid during relief operations.

About 114 cities had become isolated by the floods and thousands of stranded people in need of food, water and medicines would have to be airlifted to access supplies, the FAO said.

The cyclonic weather patterns and subsequent flooding has also left over one million people affected in nearby Mozambique where a rising death toll stood at 492 Monday. dpa bve ms

AP-NY-03-13-00 1229EST

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 03/13/2000 12:29:56


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