The Intersection

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Antalaha, the namesake of this post, is a town on the northeastern coast of Madagascar.

In 2000, according to CNN, Cyclone Hudah struck Antalaha and leveled “nearly every building.” It appears that Hudah was a Category 4 storm at landfall. The United Nations added that the town was “approximately 95 perent destroyed,” leaving three-quarters of the population, or 130,000 people, in need of emergency assistance.

Four years later, Antalaha got hit again and it was–if that’s possible–even worse. The storm was Cyclone Gafilo, and it was a full-fledged Category 5 at landfall. The hit on Antalaha was direct; this time, perhaps due to somewhat stronger rebuilding, only 85 percent of structures were destroyed, although as the Red Cross reported, “Most of these were rudimentary constructions of wooden poles, mud, and thatched or zinc roofs” (PDF). 171,000 people were directly affected.

And now, Category 4 Cyclone Indlala–the strongest storm so far this year–has struck the Madagascan coast, again very near Antalaha, as you can see from the storm track. Madagascar itself has been affected by four cyclones this season; now Antalaha has had three Category 4 or 5 landfalls in 7 years. It is too soon to know what the damage has been like this time….but it’s hard to be optimistic.


  1. #1 Chris Mooney
    March 18, 2007

    This is an excerpt from the first specific damage report that I’ve seen following Indlala:

    Antananarivo – Two people were killed and thousands left homeless when a cyclone smashed the northern coast of Madagascar, authorities said on Saturday.

    Cyclone “Indlala” left a trail of devastation in its wake, damaging buildings and infrastructure on the Indian Ocean island.

    The deaths occurred in the village of Antalaha, 570km north of the capital Antananarivo, said Jacky Randriaharison, national emergencies chief.

    “The provisional toll from Indlala is 2 850 homeless, but this number will rise,” Randriaharison said, adding that there had been considerable material damage.

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