Cyclone-hit Madagascar braces for another ‘big one’

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By Associated Press

NAIROBI: 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 is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar late Tuesday amid fears it will be a stronger storm than the three that have left nearly 200 people dead this cyclone season. Most of those deaths have been on the Indian Ocean island but people have also died in Mozambique and Malawi on mainland Africa.

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.

A red alert has been issued for Emnati, which is moving over the Indian Ocean and currently has maximum wind speeds of 222 kilometers per hour (138 miles per hour), according to the U.N. weather station on the island of Reunion, which monitors the cyclones. Emnati has been categorized as a strong cyclone and is expected to pummel the Vatomandry and Farafangana regions in eastern Madagascar with heavy rains, storm surges and strong winds on Tuesday night.

“We are preparing for a big one,” said Vincent Dalonneau, Madagascar director of the aid agency Humanity & Inclusion. “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.”

Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth caused massive destruction and hundreds of deaths in Mozambique and neighboring countries in 2019, leading the UN weather agency to send a task force to the region.