'Dangerous' Cyclone Freddy makes landfall in Madagascar

Storm comes after January's deadly Cyclone Cheneso killed 33

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A powerful cyclone made landfall in Madagascar on Tuesday, sparking fears of flooding and displacement on an island already battered by adverse weather.

Schools closed and transport was suspended before the cyclone's expected arrival, which the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said could affect more than 3.3 million people in Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

By late afternoon, the streets of Mananjary, a coastal town of 25,000 people, were almost empty as winds strengthened and rain started falling.

“There are no more people on the streets,” Mialy Caren Ramanantoanina, regional spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told AFP by phone, speaking from the town, located 500 kilometres south-east of the capital Antananarivo.

She said many people had sought shelter in 35 shelters set up across the town, with residents living in big houses also taking in neighbours.

“Right now, we have strong winds as well as heavy rain,” Ms Ramanantoanina added.

Locals reached by phone said the beach was empty, with only cattle roaming around.

Freddy comes on the heels of the deadly Cyclone Cheneso, which struck the island in January, killing 33.

Last year, Madagascar was hit by four cyclones in one month. Cyclones Batsirai and Emnati caused the most damage, and much of the island is still recovering from them.

Waves of more than eight metres are expected near the impact zone, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Twitter, issuing a red alert for the area.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: February 21, 2023, 5:19 PM