Cyclone Ava kills at least 29 in Madagascar

The cyclone hit the island nation during the weekend, leading to flooding, which affected at least 80,000 people.

Madagascar 2017 cyclone
Last year Enawo, the strongest cyclone to hit the island in 13 year, killed at least 80 people in Madagascar [File: Alexander Joe/AP]

A few days after cyclone Ava made landfall on Madagascar, its devastating impact is starting to become clear.

The tropical storm hit the island country off the southeastern coast of Africa on Friday and Saturday, killing at least 29 people nationwide and forcing more than 17,000 from their homes.

A statement by the National Bureau for Risk and Catastrophe Management said that 22 people were still missing by Monday. Overall, Ava affected more than 83,000 people.

The cyclone struck the eastern part of Madagascar the hardest. There, towns flooded and buildings collapsed. Roads were also damaged and communications were knocked out.

“There was a huge amount of rainfall and very strong winds. As a result, houses have collapsed and buildings have fallen on top of people,” Samantha Cameron, an aid worker, told Al Jazeera from the southcentral city of Fianarantsoa.


“A lot of the roads have been cut off and some emergency measures have been taken to rebuild the main road between here and the capital, Antananarivo. But progress has been slow,” added Cameron, who works for Feedback Madagascar, an international group focused on poverty reduction in the country.

Cameron said that at least 16 schools in five municipalities were believed to had been destroyed. 

“Some towns are still flooded and the phone network is down, which makes communicating with these places even harder.”

Destructive impact

Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is regularly hit by cyclones between the months of November and April.

In March 2017, tropical cyclone Enawo slammed into the northeast of the country, killing at least 80 people displacing almost a quarter of a million.

“Enawo was the strongest cyclone to hit Madagascar in 13 years, with winds of 230kph, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane”, said Al Jazeera meteorologist Steff Gaulter.

Gaulter said the heavy downpours brought by Ava led to mudslides and flooding in Madagascar, while on the neighbouring island nation of La Reunion, the capital of Saint-Denis was drenched by 50mm of rain.

Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, with its Gross Domestic Product ranking 164th out of 175 countries, according to the World Bank.


Cameron said that a destructive storm like Ava meant that the country’s impoverished citizens would now have to face further challenges.

“Crops are destroyed and roads are inaccessible,” she said.

“An event like this is felt even more by the population because they have less economic possibilities to recover,” added Cameron.

“But the sun came out today, so we are happy the worst of the storm has passed.”

With reporting by Yarno Ritzen

Source: Al Jazeera