By Alain Iloniaina
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - At least 72 people were killed when the tropical storm Irina hit northern Madagascar in late February, causing floods and landslides, authorities said on Thursday.
Three people were also reported missing and some 77,911 displaced, said the National Office for Disaster and Risk Management, BNGRC. The storm destroyed 1,348 homes.
Irina passed through the country on February 26-27, mostly in the north of the island.
"The dead are either buried under the mud or have been washed away," Fanja Ratsimbazafy, secretary-general of the Madagascar Red Cross, told Reuters by phone.
"Many roads are blocked due to landslides. Rivers overflowed, isolating many villages. The isolation of affected areas slows the arrival of information. This also complicates the organisation of relief."
According to the U.S. space agency NASA, as of Wednesday, Irina, with wind speeds close to 45 knots, was moving toward Mozambique, and was now about 552 miles east-southeast of capital Maputo.
"Residents along the eastern coast of South Africa and Mozambique should keep an eye on the storm as it moves back in their direction over the next couple of days," NASA said on its website.
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.
In mid-February, another cyclone, Giovanna, killed 35 people and injured 284 as it swept through the island.
(Editing by George Obulutsa and Alessandra Rizzo)