JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A cyclone that hit northeast Madagascar killed at least three people and left nearly 500 people homeless, but officials and aid workers warned Wednesday that the full extent of the devastation was not yet clear because some access and communications were severed.
A 5-year-old child was among those killed after Cyclone Enawo hit the island nation with strong winds and rain on Tuesday, reported the daily newspaper L'Express de Madagascar, citing disaster management officials.
The storm was expected to move south through the country with diminishing strength for several days, affecting the capital of Antananarivo on Wednesday. Floods and landslides were a concern.
The cyclone moved slowly after making landfall in the north, possibly intensifying the threat to the local population, said Pilar Duat Llorens, program director in Madagascar for the aid group Handicap International. She said by telephone from Antananarivo that it was difficult to get information from a rural, remote area with basic infrastructure that is hard to reach in normal conditions.
"Now the access is going to be much more difficult," she said.
Handicap International works in an area near where the cyclone hit and said in a statement that it is especially concerned about the safety of people with disabilities.
Another aid group, Catholic Relief Services, expressed concern for vanilla farmers in northeast Madagascar, where much of the world's vanilla comes from. There are fears that farmers' crops have been destroyed, with possible implications for global vanilla prices.
Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris