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Deadly Cyclone Enawo batters Madagascar with flooding, damaging winds

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
March 10, 2017, 10:11:03 AM EST

Tropical Cyclone Enawo made landfall between Farahalana and Antalaha late on Tuesday morning local time as an intense tropical cyclone.

Enawo packed winds over 225 km/h (140 mph), which are equal to that of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans.

Madagascar cyclone

Flood waters are seen in parts of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, on Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alexander Joe)

The cyclone is the strongest to strike Madagascar in 13 years. Tropical Cyclone Gafilo struck similar areas in 2004 and resulted in the deaths of 363 people.

At least five people have been killed and seven injured, according to the Indian Express.

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The injuries and deaths have resulted from strong winds, floods and landslides, according to a report released by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

More than 760,000 people in nine regions across the country are expected to have been directly affected by Enawo.

Madagascar Satellite 3/8

Satellite image of Cyclone Enawo making landfall in northeastern Madagascar on Tuesday.

About 22,000 have either been left homeless or suffered property damage.

The cyclone also destroyed roads and cut off communication to the Antalaha district, which is home to 230,000 people in northeastern Madagascar.

Antalaha port is inaccessible with more than half of the homes in the city destroyed, the report from OCHA stated.

A total of 70 percent of the vanilla fields in the district of Antalaha have been destroyed, CARE International told AccuWeather.

"There won't be any harvest in June on fields in [the] cyclone's pathway," the organization said.

Madagascar supplies the majority of the world's vanilla beans.

Around 500 people of the nation's capital, Antananarivo, reportedly had to take shelter in a local sports hall as a major waste canal overflowed.

The capital was inundated with 156 mm (6.14 inches) of rain through Friday morning.

The city of Sambava was pounded by strong winds and heavy rainfall on Tuesday as Enawo made landfall. Rainfall totaled more than 300 mm (12 inches), leading to flooding.

Madagascar AP 3/8

Trees are lashed by strong winds in Sambava, Madagascar Tuesday, March 7, 2017 as heavy rains and strong winds from a cyclone hit northeast Madagascar, raising concerns about flooding and landslides. Aid workers were on alert as Cyclone Enawo lashed the coastline. The storm was expected to move south through the island nation for several days, affecting the capital of Antananarivo along the way. (AP Photo/Manny Horsford)

Rainfall over 210 mm (8.30 inches) fell in Toamasina with more than 150 mm (6 inches) on Nosy Boraha.

The long-term impacts of Enawo may be largely positive as rainfall is needed across much of Madagascar due to a significant drought preceding the arrival of the cyclone.

The above video shows strong winds battering the town of Sambava on Tuesday, not long after Enawo made landfall.

"Following the departure of Enawo, showers and thunderstorms will develop daily across parts of Madagascar through at least this weekend, threatening to interfere with cleanup operations," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Any downpours could trigger new flooding problems, and lightning will pose dangers to those living in tents.

"On the heels of Enawo is another strengthening tropical system, but this is expected to turn southward prior to reaching Madagascar," Pydynowski said.

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