Heavy rains in Madagascar cause flooding in the capital, 10 dead

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

As the rains continue and a possible cyclone approaches the Indian Ocean island, officials have warned of possible landslides in the capital, which is built on steep hills.

President Andry Rajoelina has called an emergency meeting on the flood crisis, his office said.

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 the upper parts of the city collapsed due to the rains.

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

“We call on the inhabitants of Antananarivo and surrounding communes to leave areas at high risk of landslides, places where trees are at risk of falling and houses are at risk of collapsing,” said General Elack Andriankaja, director General of the National Administration. Office of Risk and Disaster Management, said Wednesday.

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

The rains reached the far south of Madagascar, which had been parched by 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 working the land,” said Mosa Tovontsoa, ​​46, a farmer from the outskirts of Ambovombe.

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