January 8, 2018 / 12:25 PM / 2 months ago

Madagascar cyclone kills 29, displaces thousands

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - A cyclone that hit eastern Madagascar over the weekend killed at least 29 people and injured three others while two people were reported missing, authorities said on Monday.

Tropical Cyclone Ava passed through Madagascar on Friday and Saturday, hitting mostly the eastern coast of the island with wind speeds of between 140-190 kph (87-119 mph).

“The provisional report of cyclone Ava hitting Madagascar, (shows) 29 people were killed,” Melisa Venance, communications officer of the National Office of Risk and Disaster Management, said.

The administrative region of Haute Matsiatra, located 400 km (250 miles) south of Antananarivo, said that among those killed were eight people from a family who had been at a funeral vigil on Sunday when their house was hit by a landslide.

“The bodies were searched for all night, and the corpses of eight people, including an 11-month-old baby, and the body of the deceased were found under rubble on Monday morning,” the post said.

The National Office of Risk and Disaster Management had earlier on Monday put the dead at at least six, and that more than 13,000 people were displaced by the cyclone, while more than 16,000 pupils had classes suspended until Thursday, due to flooding and risk of landslides.

In March 2017, Cyclone Enawo struck Madagascar, killing at least 78 people on its vanilla-producing northeastern coast.

Enawo damaged around 30 percent of the crop in the world’s biggest producer, which accounts for nearly half of the world’s crop.

But Georges Geeraerts, the president of the Group of the Vanilla exporters, told Reuters the cyclone Ava had not touched vanilla-producing areas and there had been “no impact” on production.

Reporting by Lovasoa Rabary; Writing by George Obulutsa

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