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On 7 March 2017, Intense Tropical Cyclone Enawo made landfall on the north-east coast of Madagascar at approximately noon, local time. Winds up to 290 km/h were recorded, with some gusts reaching 300 km/h.
Between 7 and 9 March the cyclone then slowly crossed the island-continent from north to south, causing very heavy rain and affecting almost 20 million people.
Torrential rainfall in particular has led to fears of flooding and landslides in the coming days. The regions most impacted by Enawo have been Sava, Analanjirofo, Alaotra Mangoro, Atsinanana, Analamanga (the region of the nation’s capital, Antananarivo), Vakinankaratra, Bongolava, Itasy, Ihombre, Amoron’i Mania, Haute Matsiatra and Vatovavy Fitovinany.
The path of the cyclone, as well as its intensity on making landfall, recall Cyclones Ivan (2008) and Gafilo (2004). Based on the experience of these previous cyclones, projections estimate that 720,000 people could be affected by Enawo, while 92,000 may require emergency assistance in the weeks ahead.
It is currently difficult to assess the extent of damage due to the isolation of affected areas and the interruption of telecommunications with the Antalaha region. However initial reports put the death toll at 5, with 7 injured and more than 12,000 affected people (on 8 March).
Malagasy Red Cross played a very active role as soon as warnings about Enawo were issued. The preceding weekend more than 500 volunteers had already been deployed to alert the local population and conduct pre-emptive evacuations. More than 1,000 volunteers are currently working in the eight most vulnerable regions to provide first aid, assist those sheltered in temporary accommodation, and proceed with rapid needs assessment.
PIROI, at the request of the Malagasy Red Cross, has sent its Operations Coordinator to support local teams. It should be possible to establish a more detailed action plan over the weekend, once the results of the initial assessments have been collected. Emergency supplies, pre-positioned in Madagascar and Reunion Island, could be mobilised based on identified needs.