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Cyclone-hit Madagascar braces for another ‘big one’

NAIROBI, KENYA (AP) – The island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa is bracing for yet another cyclone having already been hit by three major tropical storms in the last month.

Cyclone Emnati made landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar late yesterday.

Tropical storm Ana hit Madagascar in late January. The devastating Cyclone Batsirai left more than 120 people dead and displaced around 143,000 on the island early this month, and destroyed buildings and roads. Cyclone Dumako made landfall just last week.

Most of those deaths have been on the Indian Ocean island but people have also died in Mozambique and Malawi on mainland Africa.

A red alert has been issued for Emnati, which is moving over the Indian Ocean and currently has maximum wind speeds of 222 kilometres per hour, according to the United Nations (UN) weather station on the island of Reunion, which monitors the cyclones.

Emnati has been categorised as a strong cyclone and pummelled the Vatomandry and Farafangana regions in eastern Madagascar with heavy rains, storm surges and strong winds last night.

“We are preparing for a big one,” said Madagascar director of the aid agency Humanity & Inclusion Vincent Dalonneau. “This is the most intense cyclone season I have seen since I have been here. We are already prepared for the storm. Our teams are tired and still preparing for multiple emergencies at once.”

The UN weather agency said eight to 12 more cyclones are expected in the Madagascar and southern African region by the time the cyclone season ends in May.

The agency had previously warned of more intense “high-impact tropical cyclones, coastal flooding and intense rainfall linked to climate change”.

A house lays in ruins in Mananjary, Madagascar. PHOTO: AP

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