Heavy rains in Madagascar cause flooding in capital, 10 dead

Workers wade through floodwater after heavy rain in Antananarivo, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe)

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar (AP) — Heavy rains in Madagascar have flooded parts of the capital city, Antananarivo, killing 10 people and making more than 12,000 homeless, officials said Wednesday.

With the rains continuing and a possible cyclone approaching the Indian Ocean island, officials warned of potential landslides in the capital city, which is built on steep hills.

President Andry Rajoelina has called an emergency meeting over the flooding crisis, his office announced.

At least 2,400 residences in the capital are flooded and low-lying areas of the city are in deep water, officials said. Six houses in higher parts of the city have collapsed because of the rains.

A woman and her children sit inside their flooded home after heavy rains in Antananarivo, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe)

Three gymnasiums in the city are being used to house displaced families and others are sheltering in schools and local government offices.

“We are appealing to the inhabitants of Antananarivo and the surrounding municipalities to leave areas at high risk of landslides, places where trees are at risk of falling and houses are at risk of collapsing,” Gen. Elack Andriankaja , director-general of the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management, said Wednesday.

“According to meteorology forecasts, there is a high risk of a cyclone in the Indian Ocean by the end of this week,” he said, urging inhabitants of eastern parts of the island to be vigilant.

The rains have reached the extreme south of Madagascar, which had been parched by a severe drought, say residents of Ambovombe, 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) south of the capital.

“This rain relieves a lot of farmers. Everyone is in the fields right now to work the land,” Mosa Tovontsoa, ​​46, a farmer on the outskirts of Ambovombe.

“It gives us hope because everything has turned green all of a sudden and the zebus (cattle) can go to feed in the meadows,” he said. ”But we don’t have enough seeds because many people ate them during the dry period.”