February 14, 2012 / 9:09 AM / 8 years ago

Cyclone Giovanna pummels Madagascar, kills one

ANTANANARIVO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A category four cyclone pummelled Madagascar’s eastern shores on Tuesday, killing at least one person and causing power shutdowns in some major towns, the authorities said.

In the eastern port city of Tamatave, schools and offices were closed for a second day as heavy rains and powerful gusts lashed the seaboard after Cyclone Giovanna hit the island.

“One person died in Brickaville after an electricity pole fell on her,” Alain Mahavimbina, the top official in Antsinanana, told Reuters.

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.

“Tamatave is like a ghost town,” resident Joel Milamaro told Reuters. “The roads are deserted.”

In the capital Antananarivo, the authorities cut off power and ordered drivers to stay off the roads and businesses to shut their doors as torrential rains persisted into Tuesday.

A special weather bulletin in the morning warned of “imminent danger”.

Data supplied by the U.S. Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center showed sustained winds of around 231 km (143 miles) per hour driving the category 4 cyclone into Madagascar. The eye of the storm made landfall south of Tamatave.

The U.S. space agency NASA’s website said the cyclone was expected to weaken as it moved across the world’s fourth largest island, where foreign firms are mining nickel and ilmenite and exploring for oil.

“It is expected to move into Mozambique Channel and may re-intensify,” NASA said. (Editing by George Obulutsa and Alistair Lyon)

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