February 15, 2012 / 6:21 PM / 7 years ago

Cyclone Giovanna kills 16 in Madagascar, worst over

ANTANANARIVO, Feb 15 (Reuters) - At least 16 people have been killed this week when a category four cyclone lashed Madagascar’s eastern shores, rescue authorities said on Wednesday.

Some 65 people were injured and about 11,000 people left homeless after Cyclone Giovanna pummelled the country’s eastern seaboard causing power shutdowns in parts of the island’s port city of Tamatave, rescue officials said.

The eye of the storm had made landfall south of Tamatave and was now headed towards the Mozambique channel. Rescue officials said the death toll could rise.

“It is still a provisional toll and it may still change,” Liva Randrianambinina, a communication officer at the National Bureau of Risk Management and Disaster, told Reuters.

Madagascar is prone to cyclones and tropical storms, especially in the rainy season from February to May.

In 2008, Cyclone Ivan smashed Madagascar, killing more than 80 people and leaving over 200,000 homeless.

Madagascar, the world’s biggest producer of vanilla, is the world’s fourth largest island at about size of Texas or France. The island is also one of the world’s poorest countries.

The worst of the storm was over by late Tuesday when the authorities cut off power in the capital Antananarivo, and ordered drivers to stay off the roads and businesses to shut their doors as torrential rains persisted.

On Wednesday, electricity remained unstable in Antananarivo, said residents.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the national office for disaster response and humanitarian agencies are gearing up to help those affected by cyclone.

“What needs to be done now is a proper assessment so we can understand the exact dimensions of this natural disaster,” said Dominic Stolarow, UNICEF’s emergency coordinator in Madagascar. (Writing by James Macharia Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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