from MARIO RAJOMAZANDRY in Antananarivo, Madagascar
ANTANANARIVO, (CAJ News) – AT least 31 people have been killed after heavy rainfall and flooding in Madagascar.
The tropical disaster has affected nearly 107 000 people, including more than 16 000 that have been displaced.
“The death toll may rise in the days ahead, as several people remain missing,” lamented a spokesperson of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
At least seven regions in the north of the Indian Ocean island have been affected, with Alaotra Mangoro, Boeny and Sofia the hardest hit.
The government has declared a state of emergency and is leading the humanitarian response.
Government has deployed two helicopters to conduct aerial surveillance of the flooded areas but access is still a challenge.
This is especially for Alaotra Mangoro region and some isolated districts.
The disaster is a result of a weather system that formed in the Mozambique Channel on January 17 before hitting north-west of Madagascar.
Destruction and damage of key infrastructure–including roads, houses and schools–has been reported in multiple locations of the southern African island.
Across the seven affected regions, around 6 600 students are out of school due to the damage of 85 classrooms.
Some 18 schools are used as temporary displacement sites.
Flooding has affected rice plains and lowlands used to grow crops and may therefore impact food security in the period ahead.
Before the most recent crisis, Madagascar had been receiving heavy rainfall in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Belna since the beginning of December.
It was earlier than the cyclone season that ordinarily peaks in February-to-March.
– CAJ News