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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 21:34 GMT
Madagascar in cyclone aid appeal
By Jonny Hogg
BBC News, Antanarivo

Villagers stand by ruined homes in Ambomalasa after a cyclone in 2004
Madagascar regularly suffers from cyclones at this time of year
Madagascar has appealed for help from the international community in the wake of Cyclone Ivan, which left at least 29 people dead and 18,000 homeless.

The storm struck the east coast of the island on Sunday, and was followed by torrential rains which caused flooding, leaving many communities cut off.

Winds gusting at more than 200km/h (125mph) caused widespread damage.

Officials say the difficulty in reaching isolated villages on this huge island are hampering relief efforts.

Whole villages have been wiped out, many roads are completely blocked, buildings have been destroyed
Gen Marcel Rajeva

Although only two people were killed by the storm itself, the relentless downpour which followed has washed out roads, destroyed crops and left many communities accessible only by air or water.

This has prompted the authorities to make an appeal to the international community for assistance, with the government warning that, with the cyclone season not expected to end until April, further storms could follow. Risk of disease

The government says 55,000 people have been affected.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Marcel Rajeva said the situation on the ground was "deplorable" and highlighted why the international aid was so urgently needed.

Map of Madagascar
"Whole villages have been wiped out, many roads are completely blocked, buildings have been destroyed and in the capital the water has risen extremely quickly," he said.

Flying over the capital, Antananarivo, where 8,000 people are homeless, it is easy to see the damage.

Huge swathes of low-lying land are under several metres of water, and video footage from the east coast, which bore the full brunt of the storm, shows roads that have been completely destroyed.

Indeed, 75% of buildings on the island of Sainte Marie, where the cyclone made landfall, are believed to have been destroyed.

A relief effort is under way but with the risk of disease increasing and the difficulty in reaching isolated villages on this huge island hampering relief efforts, Gen Ranjeva is warning that things are likely to get worse.

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Madagascar
06 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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