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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Cyclone flattens Madagascar town
At least 13 people are now known to have died in Madagascar, when the powerful cyclone, Hudah, hit the northern part of the island at the weekend.

State-owned radio reported that 11 people were killed in the north-eastern coastal town of Maroantsetra and another two died in nearby Antalaha, which was caught up in the eye of the storm.

From what I have also witnessed personally, no other cyclone has been as serious as this one

Privatisation Minister Horace Constant
Many of those who died are believed to have been killed by falling trees.

Officials of the National Disaster Committee say about 50,000 people have been rendered homeless and up to 100,000 others have been left without drinking water and food.

Nine prisoners are also reported to have escaped from jail after the prison was destroyed in the storm.

The cyclone is now heading towards flood-hit Mozambique.


Several villages have been cut off by flood waters, landslides and falling trees.
Madagascan woman
Thousands of people are still recovering from the effects of two earlier cyclones
Communication links have been cut and electric power has been disrupted.

The authorities fear that the scale of the destruction will be higher once emergency services reach some cut-off villages.

Antalaha, which produces much of Madagascar's vanilla, was completely destroyed.

"Cyclone Hudah has caused tremendous damage in Antalaha. We have all seen that the town is totally destroyed," Privatisation Minister Horace Constant told national radio after visiting the affected areas.

"According to reports by people and from what I have also witnessed personally, no other cyclone has been as serious as this one," said the minister, who is a native of the affected areas.

A spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Matthew Hatchwell, told reporters that an entire neighbourhood of wooden houses was flattened.

"Most buildings not made of concrete were totally destroyed and many others seriously damaged," he said.

Heading for Mozambique

Cyclone Hudah is the third tropical storm to hit Madagascar over the past two months.

Eline hit the island in mid-February followed a fortnight later by Tropical Storm Gloria, with about 200 people killed and more than 100,000 badly affected.

Cyclone Hudah is due to hit Mozambique on Tuesday or Wednesday
The powerful cyclone left the northwest coast of Madagascar around 0900 local time (0600 GMT) on Monday and headed towards already flood-hit Mozambique on the African mainland.

South Africa's Weather Bureau predicts that Hudah will reach Mozambique by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

The Bureau is warning of heavy rainfall as the storm hits land.

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See also:

03 Apr 00 | Africa
Cyclone heads for Mozambique
10 Mar 00 | Africa
UN appeals for Madagascar aid
28 Feb 00 | Africa
The floods: A regional disaster
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