Dozens feared missing, dead after slow-moving tropical cyclone impacts Madagascar
The 2022–23 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season began in mid-November and runs through April. Forecasters expect a slightly below-average year due to cooler water temperatures and the continued influence from La Niña.
ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar – A slow-moving and erratic tropical cyclone in the southwest Indian Ocean dropped several inches of rain on the island of Madagascar and is being blamed by local authorities for the deaths of more than two dozen.
France’s national meteorological service reports the tropical system started developing on January 17 and strengthened into Tropical Cyclone Cheneso around 48 hours later.
Tropical cyclones are similar to what are identified as typhoons in the Pacific and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin and are categorized based on sustained wind speeds.
The erratic movement of Cheneso caused the storm to spend days over Madagascar, all while dropping torrential rainfall and gusty winds.
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Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management reported more than 80,000 people were displaced due to flooding, and nearly 50 residents were considered missing or dead.
Authorities warned heavy rainfall and landslides have hampered the response to communities that are cut off from aid groups.
During the height of the storm, the nation’s weather service expected rainfall amounts of up to four inches per day in the harder-hit zones.
"Children are facing the consequences of flooding caused by Cyclone Cheneso. They are at increased risk of waterborne diseases. Together with our partners, we provide children and families with life-saving supplies, including soap and materials to store and purify water," the United Nations Children’s Fund stated.
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Due to the African nation having one of the highest poverty rates in the world, its population of 28 million is considered to be extremely vulnerable to natural disasters.
The World Bank Group reports 53 events affected the island nation from 1980 to 2010, with each causing at least $1 billion of economic damages.
The latest system comes on the heels of back-to-back tropical cyclones that left scenes of devastation in Madagascar nearly a year ago.
The 2022–23 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season began in mid-November and runs through end of April, but cyclones are known to form out of season.
Forecasters expect a slightly below-average year due to cooler water temperatures and the continued influence from La Niña.