Dozens dead in Tropical Storm Ana as southern Africa prepares for wilder weather | Madagascar
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The death toll from a storm that hit three southern African countries rose to 77 as emergency teams battled to repair damaged infrastructure and help tens of thousands of victims.
Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in Madagascar on Monday before rolling into Mozambique and Malawi throughout the week, bringing torrential rains
Rescuers and authorities from all three countries were assessing the extent of the damage on Friday morning, even as another storm formed in the Indian Ocean.
Madagascar declared a state of national disaster on Thursday evening as the death toll rose to 48. Mozambique reported 18 dead while 11 died in Malawi.
The remnants of the storm passed over Zimbabwe, but no fatalities were reported.
In the three hardest hit countries, tens of thousands of homes have been damaged. Some collapsed in the pouring rain, trapping the victims in the rubble.
Overflowing rivers washed away bridges and submerged fields, drowning livestock and destroying the livelihoods of rural families.
In Madagascar, 130,000 people fled their homes. In the capital, Antananarivo, schools and gymnasiums have been turned into emergency shelters.
“We only brought our most important belongings,” said Berthine Razafiarisoa, who took refuge in a gym with her family of 10.
In northern and central Mozambique, Ana destroyed 10,000 homes and dozens of schools and hospitals, while knocking down power lines.
Mozambique and the international meteorological services have warned that another storm, named Batsirai, has formed over the Indian Ocean and is expected to make landfall over the weekend.
It “could evolve into a severe tropical storm in the coming days,” the United Nations said in a statement.
Up to six tropical cyclones are expected before the end of the rainy season in March.
“The situation is extremely worrying” and “the vulnerability is very, very high,” said UN resident coordinator in Mozambique Myrta Kaulard.
“The challenge is daunting, the challenge is extreme,” she said, noting that the storms were hitting “an already extremely vulnerable region” still trying to recover from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit the region in 2019.
“Mozambique is responding to a complex crisis in the north which has caused enormous additional pressure on the country’s budget, on the population,” Kaulard said. “In addition there is also the Covid.”
In neighboring Malawi, the government has declared a state of natural disaster.
Most of the country lost power earlier this week after floodwaters hit power stations. Power was restored to parts of the country on Thursday, but parts of the power grid were destroyed.
“Our priority now is to restore electricity to health facilities, water treatment distribution systems and schools,” the national electricity company said in a statement.
Southern Africa, and in particular Mozambique, has suffered destructive storms on several occasions in recent years.
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