AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - More than 170 people missing and 32 dead in the wake of fierce cyclone “Gafilo” in Madagascar.

Friday, 12 March 2004

Antananarivo (Fides Service) - In its wake last week’s cyclone Gafilo left more than 170 people missing and 32 dead. Among the missing persons the crew and 120 passengers of a Comores Islands ferry which sunk in the Mozambique Channel on March 9. Rescue workers found only two passengers, a man and a woman.
International relief aid continues to arrive in Madagascar. Supplies will be distributed particularly among some 10,000 children under five and about 2,500 pregnant mothers in the worst hit areas. Children and pregnant mothers are most vulnerable to infections caused by unclean water. Many rivers broke their banks interrupting clean water supplies. The government has decreed 3 days national mourning for the dead.
The cyclone struck northern Madagascar on 7 March at four in the morning with winds of up to 300 km per hour. It then went out to sea only to return two days later to strike south-western region of the Island, and the town of Ankazoabo in particular.
Caritas Madagascar sent Fides a temporary report on the villages most damage: 90% Vohémar, Sambava, Antalaha, Maroantsetra, in the north east; 75% Sainte Marie, Fenerive-Est, Mananara-Nord and Vatomandry. More than 130,000 people are homeless in four of the Islands six provinces, only Fianarantsoa and Tulear were spared. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/3/2004 righe 23 parole 291)