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Madagascar cyclone claims lives and homes as winds batter the island

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By Philip Andrew Churm  with AP
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Madagascar cyclone claims lives and homes as winds batter the island
Copyright  Alexander Joe/AP

A tropical cyclone that hit Madagascar on Saturday has left at least six people dead and nearly 48,000 displaced.

Forecasts issued on Sunday predicted that Cyclone Batsirai will bring further flooding due to heavy rains.

One of the hardest-hit places on the island is the town of Mananjary. The cyclone made landfall just ten kilometres away with wind gusts of 235 km/h

Residents there say the situation is desperate.

"We are in great difficulty," said local resident, Amanda.

"The people of Mananjary need help, but not temporary help like food that will be used in a day. We need long-term help like shelter, sheets for houses."

Faby, who also lives in Mananjary, said: "Many houses have collapsed, we can't say how many people are affected because we are all affected.

"Mananjary is completely destroyed, no matter where you go, everything is destroyed."

'Batsirai' means help in the Shona language and now that it is on land its winds have slowed to about 125 km/h.

Residents in the nearby towns of Manakara and Nosy Varika report that the cyclone has caused widespread damage by blowing the roofs off homes, knocking down trees and utility poles, making roads impassable and flooding many areas.

Batsirai has come as a further blow to Madagascar; one of the poorest countries in the world.

Last month the island was already hit hard by tropical storm Ana, which killed around 60 people.