The number of dead on Madagascar’s Indian Ocean island had grown from 21 to 30 the previous evening, according to the country’s disaster management agency (BNGRC). According to the BNGRC, 94,000 people were affected by Batsirai, with 60,000 of them now homeless.
Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies have begun to deploy resources and teams to assist the victims of the cyclone, which brought torrential rain and winds of up to 165 kilometers per hour (102 miles per hour).
The tropical cyclone made landfall on Madagascar’s eastern coast over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, affecting a 150-kilometer stretch of sparsely populated and agricultural land.
As the cyclone moved inland it caused flooding that ravaged rice fields in the country’s central “breadbasket”, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.
German experts have arrived in the country, one of the poorest on the planet, to “support the humanitarian response in the Batsirai passage areas”, said the BNGRC, and work is underway on the 20 roads and the 17 bridges that were cut, isolating villages.
“We know for sure that rice fields, that rice crops will be damaged, will be lost. This is the main crop for Malagasy people and they will be seriously affected in food security in the next three to six months if we don’t do something immediately,” said Pasqualina DiSirio, director of the World Food Program (WFP) in the country.
The UN agency distributed hot meals in Manakara, one of the most affected localities.
Many NGOs, including Action Against Hunger, Handicap International, Save the Children and Medecins du Monde, were mobilised ahead of the cyclone, organising equipment and medicines.
Alongside the aid provided by the government, they provided assistance to the victims: food, primary health care and the distribution of kitchen equipment, blankets, hygiene products.
Some 77 percent of Madagascar’s 28 million people live below the poverty line, and the latest blow comes during a severe drought in the south which has plunged more than a million people into acute malnutrition, some facing famine.
Madagascar was still picking up the pieces after Tropical Storm Ana affected at least 131,000 people across the island late last month, with most of the 55 deaths occurring in Antananarivo.
Ana also hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, causing dozens of deaths.