Positive Environment News

Dozens Missing After Madagascar Storm Kills 15

Date: 02-Feb-05
Author: Tim Cocks

More than 13,000 Madagascans need emergency relief following damage to their homes and 7,979 of these are still without shelter of any kind, the National Relief Council said in a statement.

Cyclone Ernest struck the south and west of the island at wind speeds of over 100 km per hour (60 mph) after building in the Mozambique channel, destroying rice fields and washing thousands of homes into the sea.

So far 63 fishermen who were out to sea off the southern tip of the island when the cyclone struck were missing, believed dead, the relief council said.

Earlier the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said 17 people had been killed in the disaster and 139 were missing. It said in a statement it had shipped 5,200 tonnes of food aid to distribute to victims after nearly a full week of flooding.

"We are hoping to be able to start distributing the food and medical supplies late this afternoon," WFP communication officer Steffania Trassari said. "We are waiting for the authorities to return from an assessment mission."

Aid workers say the regions of the south worst affected were ill-prepared because flooding is rare in this normally semi-arid region.

The WFP statement said food aid would at first be targeted towards "5,285 of the worst-affected people while assessments ... are being conducted to determine the extent of the damage", but added that all victims would eventually get food.

Aid workers said relief work in remoter parts of the huge Indian Ocean island hit by the storm would be tough.

"Some areas are only accessible by boat because of the flooding," said Jennifer Overton, country director of Catholic Relief Services. "We did a flyover of some more remote areas in the south. We saw several homes destroyed by floods."

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