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Cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, atleast 10 killed

Cyclone Batsirai hits Madagascar, atleast 10 killed

Mahanoro, Madagascar: At least 10 people have been killed and nearly 50,000 displaced after Cyclone Batsirai hit Madagascar's eastern coast with torrential winds and rain on Saturday, the national disaster management agency reported on Sunday.

Cyclone Batsirai swept inland late on Saturday, slamming into the eastern coastline with heavy rain and wind speeds of 165 kph (100 mph).

Parts of the country were lashed with heavy rains and wind before the cyclone made landfall in Mananjary.

It uprooted trees, destroyed buildings and forced residents to weigh down flimsy corrugated iron roofs along its path, AFP correspondents saw.

The rain will cause flooding across parts of the country, Madagascar's meteorological office said on Sunday.

Batsirai made landfall late Saturday as an "intense tropical cyclone", packing winds of 165 kilometres (102 miles) per hour, Faly Aritiana Fabien of the country's disaster management agency told AFP.

His colleague responsible for risk management, Paolo Emilio Raholinarivo, listed 10 dead, but gave no further details.

The cyclone's average wind speed had almost halved to 80 kph, while the strongest gusts had scaled back to 110 kmh from the 235 kmh recorded when it made landfall, Meteo Madagascar said.

At a cemetery in the eastern town of Mahanoro, overlooking the sea, Marie Viviane Rasoanandrasana sat on the ground watching over the bodies of her husband, father-in-law and daughter.

The waves of the rising sea eroded the sandy hill which was part of a graveyard. Several graves were ripped open, exposing their bodies and some others.

"Mananjary is completely destroyed, no matter where you go everything is destroyed," said one resident named Faby. Another man, Fana, was certain "almost 95 percent of the city has been destroyed"

The Meteo-France weather service had earlier predicted Batsirai would pose a "very serious threat" to Madagascar, after passing Mauritius and drenching the French island of La Reunion with torrential rain.

Some 10,000 people on La Reunion were still without electricity on Sunday, three days after the tropical cyclone passed through the island, injuring 12 people on its path.

The World Food Programme, citing estimates from national authorities, said around 595,000 people could be directly affected by Batsirai, and 150,000 more might be displaced because of new landslides and flooding.

The storm poses a risk to at least 4.4 million people in total, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa told a summit of African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa on Sunday that the continent was "experiencing the worst impacts of phenomena associated with global warming such as droughts, floods and cyclones".

"Despite not being responsible for causing climate change, it is Africans who are bearing both the brunt and the cost," he said.

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