"The two said they were among the passengers on the ferry 'Samson'," a maritime official said on Wednesday, adding the two Comoros nationals had come ashore near the northwestern coastal village of Ampasimariny.

   

Maritime authorities were travelling to the village to try to confirm the incident, which was being reported by local villagers, and gather more information about the whereabouts of the missing ferry, he said.

   

Rescuers were still searching for the Samson's 91 passengers and 21 crew, who are feared dead after the vessel failed to arrive in Madagascar as scheduled on Monday, a day after the cyclone Gafilo first hit the island.

   

The Samson had been sailing from the Comoran island of Anjouan for Madagascar's second port of Mahajanga.

 

No fresh damage

   

Cyclone Gafilo, which killed 25 people and made more than 100,000 homeless at the weekend, swept back over the Indian Ocean island on Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of fresh damage, officials said.

 

"The two said they were among the passengers on the ferry 'Samson'"

Unnamed maritime official

Gafilo made landfall in the early hours near the estuary of Mangoky river in the southwest, taking a second hit at Madagascar after it had swept out to sea.

  

The storm was churning towards the southeast of the giant island off Africa's southeastern coast, National Meteorological Office director Alain Razafimahozo told reporters.

   

Foreign Minister Marcel Ranjeva has appealed for international aid for the vanilla-producing island.

   

Industry officials said no firm estimates of damage to the vanilla sector had yet been made, but initial indications were that the crop had not sustained critical levels of harm.

   

Vanilla growers are based mainly in the northeast, the area where Gafilo, carrying winds of up to 200kph, made landfall late on Sunday.

   

Twenty-nine people were killed last month when cyclone Elita hit the island off southeast Africa.