Madagascar braces for cyclone blowing in from Indian Ocean

In this image supplied by EUMETSAT from satellite Meteosat 8 taken at 09.15 UTC on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022, Cyclone Batsirai is seen to the east of Madagascar(EUMETSAT via AP)
In this image supplied by EUMETSAT from satellite Meteosat 8 taken at 09.15 UTC on Wednesday, February 2, 2022, Cyclone Batsirai is seen to the east of Madagascar. (EUMETSAT via AP)

Madagascar is bracing for a new cyclone even as the Indian Ocean island recovers from a tropical storm that wreaked devastation last month.

Cyclone Batsirai is forecast to hit the island’s east coast on Saturday with heavy winds and rains, according to Madagascar’s Department of Meteorology.

The storm has already blown by the islands of Mauritius and Reunion, killing at least one person in Mauritius and causing widespread power cuts.

In January, Cyclone Ana and other heavy rains in Madagascar caused 55 deaths and made 131,000 people homeless. About 15,000 people have not yet been able to return to their homes, according to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management.

Batsirai (which means help in the Shona language) may be even more destructive and could force 150,000 people to leave their homes and badly affect about 595,000 others, according to officials.

“We must be very vigilant,” Gen. Elack Andriankaja, director-general of the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management, said Thursday. “The capital will not be spared … We have already warned residents to leave areas at risk, such as the banks of rivers and the sea, areas vulnerable to landslides and houses that will not withstand gusts of wind and the onset of heavy rains.”