At least ten people have died after heavy rains in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, rendering over 500 people homeless, Malagasy authorities said Tuesday.
According to reports, most of the victims were trapped in landslides or collapsed houses, especially in the deprived neighborhoods of the suburbs of Antananarivo, which has nearly 1.3 million inhabitants.
Spokeswoman of the Office of Risk Management and Disaster (BNGRC) of the Ministry of Interior, Sonia Ray said More than 100 mm of water fell during the night from Monday to Tuesday, warning that "the worst is yet to come in the next 24 hours,". She added, the more rains are expected throughout January.
According to forecasts, the Indian Ocean island will be hit by heavy rainfall in the coming days, with an even higher peak on Thursday.
"We expect a cyclone at the end of the week on the east coast," Lovandrainy Ratovoharisoa, a forecaster at the General Directorate of Meteorology told AFP.
Each year, the tropical country faces a period of intense and often deadly rains. In January 2020, heavy rains had caused 32 deaths and thousands of victims.
- "Imminent danger" -
Images of many Malagasy in the streets, with thigh-high muddy water, were shared on social networks. Some remained perched on walls. Others were walking along with a child on their back and bags on their stomach.
The raisn continued throughout the afternoon. The low-lying sky was occasionally torn apart by violent thunderclaps. The rainfall has been concentrated so far on the northern half of the island.
Twenty municipalities around the capital have been placed on red alert against an "imminent danger".
Firemen and civil protection are mobilized to vacate the zones at risk. Gymnasiums have been requisitioned and the government is studying the possibility of closing schools this week.
"Floods are common in Madagascar, especially in the rainy season between October and April. But yesterday they were exceptionally heavy," Ratovoharisoa said.
Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, also regularly experiences cyclones or other tropical storms.
In 2018, Cyclone Ava killed 51 people and left 22 missing. Two months later, tropical storm Eliakim had killed 20 people and left nearly 19,000 affected.