The tropical storm struck Madagascar’s eastern coast at full force. Officials have warned it could inflict “significant and widespread damage.”
Winds reaching 235 km/h (155mph) pounded Madagascar’s coast on Saturday as Cyclone Batsirai made landfall.
It struck the Mananjary district, more than 530 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of the capital Antananarivo at around 20:00 local time.
There were reports of power outages, destroyed homes and fallen trees.
“The winds are terrible. I’ve never experienced this. Mananjary has never experienced such a situation. The waves are very high,” Hanitra Raharisoa told the Reuters news agency.
The country’s disaster management agency said 27,000 people had been displaced from their homes.
Widespread destruction expected
Batsirai is the second major storm to hit the island nation in less than two weeks.
Storm Ana caused widespread destruction and killed 55 people when it struck last month. The storm also forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.
Earlier on Saturday, Madagascar’s meteorological office warned Cyclone Batsirai could cause “significant and widespread damage.”
The National Office for Risk and Disaster Management said the cyclone threatens nearly 600,000 of the island’s 28 million people.
It has already blown by Mauritius and Reunion, killing at least person in Mauritius.
The impact of Batsirai on Madagascar was expected to be “considerable,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian organization OCHA, said on Friday.
“We are very nervous,” Pasqualina Di Sirio, who heads the WFP operation in Madagascar, told reporters by video link from the island.
lo/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)