Several damage were caused by cyclone Freddy in the city of Mananjary in Madagascar. Four people were killed by the passage of Freddy on the large island of 28 million inhabitants, according to a report given in the morning by the National Office of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) which did not change during the day.
More than 16,600 Malagasy were affected, with some 4,500 houses flooded or damaged.
France’s weather service Meteo-France said Freddy weakened as it tracked across Madagascar, dropping to an average wind speed of 55 kph.
But, the agency warned, the storm would pick up strength from the warm Mozambique Channel as it headed towards the African mainland.
Cyclone Freddy is expected to land Friday in regions between central and southern Mozambique, more than 500 kilometres north of the capital Maputo, and could reach Zimbabwe.
Mozambique’s government has declared a red alert to allow agencies to prepare for a potential emergency.
Freddy had developed into one of the biggest cyclones in recent years to threaten Madagascar, which is typically lashed several times during the annual November-April storm season.
In the end, it brought less rain than feared but still ripped roofs off buildings and flattened rice fields and fruit trees.
It made landfall north of Mananjary, a coastal town of 25,000 people that remains devastated by last year’s Cyclone Batsirai, which killed more than 130 people.
“The recorded damage is almost only related to the wind.”
– Mozambique next –
Freddy is the first cyclone and the second tropical weather system to hit during Madagascar’s current season, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
The storm began to brew in the first week of February off the northwest of Australia and south of Indonesia and is now in its third week trekking across the Indian Ocean.
At its height, Freddy was a “super cyclone”, with average wind speeds of 220 kph and gusts of 320 kph, said Meteo-France’s cyclone specialist for the Indian Ocean, Sebastien Langlade.
The UN’s World Food Programme had estimated more than 2.3 million people in Madagascar could be affected.
The cyclone coincides with a months-long drought in the southern part of the island that has inflicted widespread hunger.
Freddy is expected to make landfall in Mozambique on Friday as a likely tropical storm, bringing the risk of pounding rain and flooding, according to forecasts.
Mozambique is already in the middle of its rain season and the soil is saturated.
Authorities reported that dozens of houses in the central port city of Beira had flooded Wednesday.
Heavy rain could also hit parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa at the weekend.