|On average eighty people are killed by tropical cyclones in the southwest Indian Ocean every year [AFP]
At least 77 people in southeastern Africa have been killed and more are still missing as Tropical Cyclone Irina sweeps through the region.
The storm struck northern Madagascar more than two weeks ago and has slowly tracked down the west of the country.
Torrential rain from the system hit the whole of the island, leading to the deaths of 65 people, weather officials said on Monday. The majority of the deaths occurred in the southeastern district of Ifanadiana.
The storm has also affected southern areas of Mozambique and eastern South Africa.
Five fishermen were killed in the seas off Mozambique’s port city of Beira on Saturday. Authorities on Monday were still cautioning fishermen not to venture out.
Three other people in the southern province of Gaza were killed when a tree fell on their house and the roof collapsed.
A further four people are reported to have died in South Africa. The city of Durban was lashed by waves up to three metres high as the storm approached, and ships were ordered to remain in the port.
Tropical storms in the southwest Indian Ocean are responsible for approximately 80 deaths every season
On average three tropical cyclones hit Madagascar every year, and this season has now equalled that average.
Less than two weeks before Irina, Tropical Cyclone Giovanna caused flooding and led to the deaths of 35 people.
Tropical Cyclone Giovanna was a far more intense storm, the equivalent of a category 4 hurricane when it made landfall, but ample warnings kept the death toll comparatively low.
It is far more unusual for southern Mozambique and South Africa to feel the impact of a tropical storm. In January, southern Mozambique was hit by Tropical Cyclone Dando, but that was the first storm to hit the region since 1984, when Tropical Cyclone Domoina made impact.
Tropical Cyclone Domoina led to the death of 214 lives, and is the most deadly storm in recent decades.
The tropical storm season in the southwest Indian Ocean runs between the months of November and February, but there is a chance that this storm season has not yet ended, with Tropical Cyclone Irina threatening to buckle back around, and head towards the coast of southeast Africa once more.
Locals there would be wise to keep a very close eye on this erratic storm.
Source: Al Jazeera