At least 10 people have been killed in flash floods triggered by torrential rains that hit Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo overnight, an Interior Ministry official said on Tuesday.
The victims died after “the floods caused landslides and the collapse of houses,” Sonia Ray, a spokeswoman for the ministry’s disaster management office, told AFP.
Two people were injured and more than 500 displaced by the storm, according to preliminary figures released by the National Office for Disaster Risk Management (BNGRC).
About 20 districts around the capital of 1.3 million are on red alert for flooding, he said, and built-up urban areas with poor drainage systems are seen as especially vulnerable.
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Rescue teams have been mobilized to evacuate risk areas and prepare gyms and other temporary shelters for the homeless.
Malagasy people shared images on social media of streets flooded with muddy water up to their thighs and wooden huts swept away.
Some were perched on the perimeter walls, while others navigated the flooded roads with children on their backs.
“Flooding is common in Madagascar, especially during the rainy season (October/April),” said meteorologist Lovandrainy Ratovoharisoa, “but yesterday it was exceptionally strong: 105.3 millimeters in one day.”
Ratovoharisoa told AFP:
We expect a cyclone at the end of the week on the east coast.
Rainfall is expected to peak on Thursday but continue through the end of the month.
The country’s rainy season troubles are not over yet.
The tropical Indian Ocean nation and former French colony off the southeastern coast of Africa is in the midst of a six-month rainy season that often results in casualties and widespread damage.
Two years ago, heavy rains killed 32 people and displaced thousands more.
In 2018, the country suffered a double whammy: Cyclone Ava killed 51 people in January and Tropical Storm Eliakim killed 20 people two months later.
And in March 2017, at least 78 people died in Cyclone Enawo.
Global warming has increased the risk of floods and tropical storms, as the atmosphere retains more water and rainfall patterns are disrupted.
Ironically, parts of southern Madagascar are recovering from the worst drought in four decades.
The UN World Food Program estimates that, as a result, more than 1.3 million people find themselves in a food security crisis or emergency.