“Very serious threat to the area”, Cyclone Batsirai is expected to reach eastern Madagascar on Saturday, with winds forecast at more than 200 km / h on the large island in the Indian Ocean where the inhabitants are preparing for its arrival with the means on board.
After pouring torrential rains for two days on the French island of Reunion, the cyclone was on Saturday at 01:50 GMT some 250 km from the east coast of Madagascar, according to Météo France.
It should land “between the end of the afternoon and the evening of Saturday between Masomeloka and Mananjary, near Nosy-Varika”, at the stage of an intense tropical cyclone, “therefore presenting a very serious threat to the area”, warns the forecasting body in its Saturday morning bulletin.
The winds are expected “at more than 200 or even 250 km / h in gusts at the point of impact”, notes Météo France.
The waves will be able to reach 10 to 15 meters and the heavy rains “could then extend over part of the southern half of Madagascar”.
The inhabitants are preparing to cope with the means at their disposal on the island, already hit by tropical storm Ana in January, and swept away on Friday by the wind and continuous rain.
Ana, which had also affected Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, had caused a hundred deaths – including 56 in Madagascar – and tens of thousands of victims.
Residents of the eastern coastal town of Vatomandry say they are used to cyclones.
“We have been stocking up for a week, rice but also cereals because with the power cuts we can no longer keep meat or fish”, explains Odette Nirina, 65, hotelier in this seaside town.
“I also stocked up on coal. We are used to cyclones here,” she told AFP.
Gusts of wind of more than 50km / h, accompanied by intermittent rains have been falling since Saturday morning on Vatomandry.
The impact of Cyclone Batsirai in Madagascar is expected to be “considerable”, including in areas still recovering from Storm Ana, a spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) warned on Friday. UN, Jens Laerke.
The director of the World Food Program (WFP) for Madagascar, Pasqualina Di Sirio, said she anticipated “a major crisis” on the big island, where the cyclone could affect more than 600,000 people, including 150,000 displaced.
– reinforced roofs –
Search and rescue teams have been placed on alert, stocks of supplies have been prepared and planes are ready to intervene in support of the humanitarian response.
Razafimahefa Etienne, a farmer from Madagascar, is already worried about food. The family will have enough to last until Saturday. “
But from Sunday, we will have nothing. We will try to find another solution but if there is nothing, we will eat bananas,” he said.
Sitting at the top of his house, Tsarafidy Ben Ali, a 23-year-old coal seller, weights the corrugated iron sheets of the roof with bags filled with soil from his garden. “The gusts of wind are going to be very strong. That’s why we’re reinforcing the roofs,” he told AFP.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) estimates that around 4.4 million people in total are at risk in one way or another.
“Malagasy Red Cross teams and partners are on alert and deployed to communities to warn them of the approaching storm, while emergency stocks are moved to facilitate the storm. access, explained its secretary general Andoniaina Ratsimamanga.
The teams are also trying with the government to set up emergency shelters.
Each year during the hurricane season (from November to April), about ten storms or cyclones cross the south-west of the Indian Ocean, from east to west.