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Cyclone kills 20 in Madagascar but quickly weakens on land

February 7, 2022 GMT
People make their way home during bad weather in Tamatave, Madagascar, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Weather officials forecast that the full force of Cyclone Batsirai is to hit Madagascar Saturday evening. (AP Photo)
People make their way home during bad weather in Tamatave, Madagascar, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Weather officials forecast that the full force of Cyclone Batsirai is to hit Madagascar Saturday evening. (AP Photo)
People make their way home during bad weather in Tamatave, Madagascar, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Weather officials forecast that the full force of Cyclone Batsirai is to hit Madagascar Saturday evening. (AP Photo)
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People make their way home during bad weather in Tamatave, Madagascar, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Weather officials forecast that the full force of Cyclone Batsirai is to hit Madagascar Saturday evening. (AP Photo)
1 of 3
People make their way home during bad weather in Tamatave, Madagascar, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. Weather officials forecast that the full force of Cyclone Batsirai is to hit Madagascar Saturday evening. (AP Photo)

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Cyclone Batsirai is blamed for the deaths of 20 people in Madagascar and for making more than 55,000 people homeless victims after slamming into the island’s eastern coast, officials said Monday.

The tropical storm weakened quickly as it moved southwest across the island, missing the capital Antananarivo and posing little risk apart to other areas except for heavy rainfall, the national meteorological department said Monday.

Batsirai, southern Africa’s second big cyclone this year, is forecast to dissipate further as it exits Madagascar and should not pose a serious risk to Mozambique, said the weather department.

Officials in Madagascar are working to attend to the damage caused by Batsirai. President Andry Rajoelina went to the town of Mananjary Monday to see the storm’s destruction and the relief efforts.

Batsirai destroyed about 3,000 dwellings and government buildings and flooded 5,700 others in Mananjary and nearby towns, officials said.

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“The first thing the government is doing is to see how to repair and rehabilitate administrative buildings, prioritizing health centers and hospitals,” Gen. Elack Andriankaja, director-general of the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management, told The Associated Press.

“Many administrative buildings are completely destroyed in these regions, and in particular in Mananjary,” he said.