31 killed as rains pound Madagascar By RIVONALA RAZAFISON in Antananarivo | Monday, March 5   2012 at  19:31

Villagers in Ifanadiana, south-eastern Madagascar, that has borne the brunt of persistent turbulent weather conditions. RIVONALA RAZAFISON | AFRICA REVIEW 

At least 31 people have been killed in the past few weeks as a result of heavy rains pounding Madagascar.

Authorities said bad weather, precipitated by the moderate tropical cyclone Irina, had affected at least 7,000 people.

Fatal landslides have swept away houses, with the hilly district of Ifanadiana being the most affected.

Many villagers have been rendered homeless.

“I’ve heard about houses hit by collapsed mountains claiming lives of children,” Mr Modeste Rakajilahy, deputy head of the district of Ambohimahasoa, told the Africa Review.

Residents have been asked to move out of the disaster-prone areas as heavy rainfall continued to pound Madagascar.

In the meantime, transport on most routes has been disrupted by the destruction of roads, with some having holes up to 20 meters wide.

Three cars were reportedly buried by a collapsed hill, in which at least three people died on Saturday.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem, Malagasy authorities are now calling for international aid.

In northern Madagascar alone, cyclone Irina has claimed at least seven lives, and affected nearly 6,000 others.