The government of Madagascar closed all schools and public transportation in the path of tropical cyclone Freddy, which made landfall on the island on Tuesday evening and caused a storm surge, tore off roofs, and killed at least one person.
The Madagascar meteorological office reported that Freddy weakened somewhat before making landfall about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Mananjary town at around 7:20 p.m. with average winds of 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour and gusts of 180 kilometers per hour near the eye.
“Torrential rains will continue along its path. The sea remains very rough to huge, and a significant risk of coastal flooding will continue overnight,” the service said in a statement.
Heavy rains and waves of over 26 feet (8 meters) were expected near the impact zone, the International Federation of Red Cross said on Twitter, issuing a red alert for the area.
“There is a lot of wind, it’s very strong. The sea has also risen a lot,” said Tania Rajaonarivony, a resident of Mananjary. “Some roofs were carried away by the gusts.”
A 27-year-old man drowned near the port of Mahanoro, the National Office of Risks and Disasters said. More than 7,000 people had been preventively evacuated from the Vatovavy region, it said.
All traffic in cyclone Freddy’s projected path was suspended overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, the ministry of transport and meteorology said.
The ministry of education said it had suspended classes in at least 10 regions.
Freddy travelled for 15 days of over 7,000 km (4,350 miles) of the Indian Ocean, the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, wrote on Twitter.
Cyclone Freddy made landfall nearly a month after storm Cheneso battered the island nation of 29 million, killing 33 people and forcing thousands from their homes.
Madagascar is hit by an average of 1.5 cyclones every year, the highest in Africa, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
After passing through Madagascar, Freddy might reappear in the Mozambican Channel and strengthen once more before making landfall in Mozambique and possibly continuing on to Zimbabwe, according to UNOCHA, which cited a World Food Programme assessment. This would affect a total of more than 3.3 million people.
According to the national radio, the storm forced 500 people into shelters and left another 500 families without electricity as it passed 120 kilometers to the northwest of Mauritius on Monday afternoon.
According to Mauritius’ airports operator, flights that had been grounded late on Sunday have restarted on Tuesday.