Eleven dead, thousands affected as Cyclone Gamane batters Madagascar

Houses washed away and roads destroyed after cyclone hits north of the Indian Ocean island.

Cyclone Gamane hit Madagascar on Wednesday, March 27, 2024.
The south-east African island state of Madagascar was unexpectedly hit by cyclone Gamane on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. [Al Jazeera]

At least 11 people have been killed and hundreds of homes destroyed as Cyclone Gamane smashed into northern Madagascar, according to officials.

The storm was projected to skim the Indian Ocean island, but changed course and hit the island’s Vohemar district in the early hours of Wednesday.

Video images showed torrents of water rushing through villages and people making human chains in waist-deep water while trying to help those trapped in their houses escape the deluge. Numerous routes and bridges were flooded and cut off.

Six people drowned and five others were killed by collapsing houses or falling trees, with some 7,000 people affected overall.

“It’s rare to have a cyclone like this. Its movement is nearly stationary,” General Elack Andriakaja, director general of the BNGRC national disaster management office, said in a statement.

“When the system stops in one place, it devastates all the infrastructure. And that has serious consequences for the population. And significant flooding”, he said.

The full extent of the damage is still unclear, because many villages in the region were cut off from the rest of the country, making access difficult for rescue teams.

The cyclone moved across the island with an average wind speed of 150km/h (93mph) and heavy rainfall. In some places, winds of 210km/h (130mph) were measured.

Gamane has been reclassified as a tropical storm and was expected to leave the island on Friday afternoon, according to meteorologists.

Located off the coast of southeastern Africa, Madagascar is regularly affected by severe weather. A year ago, tropical Cyclone Freddy devastated the country as well as the neighbouring mainland countries of Mozambique and Malawi. More than 500 people lost their lives.

Source: News Agencies