ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR – Cyclone Batsirai made landfall on Madagascar’s eastern coast late Saturday, causing severe gusts, a power outage, and the destruction of homes as it raced inland.
There were fears that Batsirai might exacerbate the devastation caused by another storm, Ana, which struck the island barely two weeks ago and killed 55 people.
The Batsirai storm system struck a region around 14 kilometers (nine miles) north of the town of Mananjary in Madagascar’s southeast at around 8 p.m., according to a local meteorological advisory. (1700 UTC)
The cyclone had average winds of about 165 km per hour, the bulletin said.
According to Reuters during their phone interview to a resident of Mananjary, Hanitra Raharisoa said that the winds are terrible.
“I’ve never experienced this. Mananjary has never experienced such a situation. The waves are very high,” said Raharisoa.
Another resident, Raharijaona, told Reuters by phone that the storm had knocked out the area’s power grid, toppled trees, and wrecked some homes.
Madagascar’s weather agency warned early on Saturday that the storm was likely to sweep the country from east to west, “remaining generally at a dangerous stage.”
The streets in capital city, Antananarivo, were quiet as many citizens chose to stay inside. Banks and other businesses were forced to close.
Faniry, 20, was at a shelter in the capital for people displaced by Cyclone Ana and claimed she was too terrified to go outdoors as Batsirai neared early Saturday.
“Cyclone Batsirai seems very strong,” she told Reuters, giving only her first name.
“We are stuck here because we can’t bring our children outside because it’s cold and we are afraid of landslides. Better for us to be cautious and stay here,” Faniry said.
Ana wreaked havoc on the country last month, killing at least 55 people due to landslides and destroyed buildings. The storm also caused significant flooding and displaced tens of thousands of people.
Ana headed west after destroying Madagascar, making landfall in Mozambique and heading inland to Malawi. In total, 88 persons were killed, including those in Madagascar. more info
Lalaina Randrianjatovo, a former colonel who works as the director of the ministry of population’s fast reaction team, told Reuters that Batsirai’s course was likely to bypass the capital, but heavy rains were still forecast.
“Strong rains will probably cause flooding,” he added, adding that additional people were anticipated to arrive at the Antananarivo shelter, which now holds approximately 1,500 people.