by Staff Writers
Antananarivo (AFP) Feb 27, 2015
At least 14 people died in flooding Friday in the Madagascan capital Antananarivo after a night of torrential rain caused dams to burst, rescue services said.
About 24,000 people were driven from their homes in the floods and several neighbourhoods in the Indian Ocean island nation were being evacuated, the country's emergency management bureau said.
"Due to the emergency, we call on all schools, churches, town halls, covered gymnasiums and those of goodwill to facilitate the sheltering of victims," a statement from the bureau said.
Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo visited the affected areas early Friday.
Three rivers flow in the area of the capital. A number of dams gave way under the weight of the floodwaters, sweeping away around 50 houses, the statement said.
Electricity was also cut to parts of the capital.
In the flood-stricken Valava district of the capital, Jean Christophe Rasolomaminirina, stands on the banks of a river watching boats and canoes evacuating residents.
He said water levels started rising around mid-morning on Thursday and within five hours roads were submerged.
"There is no one left in Valava," he said.
Meteorologists are forecasting more heavy rains Friday night.
Poverty-stricken Madagascar which emerged a year ago from a lengthy political crisis sparked by a 2009 coup, is prone to cyclones.
Last month, 68 people were killed when a tropical storm battered three-quarters of the island, dumping heavy rains and prompted major flooding in low-lying areas.
The capital Antananarivo was originally built on hills, but with the city's population expanding, low lying areas are being turned into residential slums.
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