A cyclone in Madagascar has displaced approximately 45,000 people

ANTANANARIVO (Madagascar) -- Cyclone Batsirai's torrential rains and wind are hammering Madagascar after it landed on the island's eastern coast late Saturday.

A cyclone in Madagascar has displaced approximately 45,000 people

According to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management, approximately 45,000 people were affected by the storm.

According to the meteorology department of the island, the cyclone gained strength in the Indian Ocean, with gale-force winds reaching peak speeds of 145 miles an hour. It made landfall near Mananjary 500 km (310 miles) east the capital Antanarivo.

Batsirai, which is Shona for help, has arrived on land and its winds are now at around 80 miles an hour.

Mananjary residents and the neighboring towns of Manakara, Nosy Varika, report that the cyclone caused extensive damage to their homes and roads, knocking down trees, utility poles and making roads impassable.

After her home was destroyed, Joellah Razanivomanana woke up in the middle of the night.

"The roof flew!" Razanivomanana (21), told The Associated Press. "We didn’t sleep all night. We took refuge under the table and under our bed to avoid the house falling on us. She stated that many trees, including large coconut palms, were blown over by the wind.
"Almost all of the houses have collapsed, and their roofs have been blown off. Razanivomanana stated that almost everyone in Mananjary is affected.

It's almost like a fire. Razanivomanana stated that only the frames of wooden houses are left. Concrete walls have cracked. It's said to be the strongest cyclone that they have ever seen.

Razanivomanana stated that it is difficult to find food.

She said that those who had prepared for the cyclone will have rice to eat, and some of it can be sold to others. "We are trying to help one another."

Mananjary has been "devastated," Jeremia Radafiharimanana of the Risk and Disaster Management office stated from the coast town. He stated that the town was without power since Friday night.

Many parts of Madagascar are already flooded from Tropical Storm Ana and heavy rainfalls in January. The new cyclone is further increasing the damage.

Batsirai has been classified as a dangerous storm. It is expected to cause "significant and widespread damage," including flooding in the east and southeast, according to a statement from the meteorology department.

Further inland, Antanarivo, the capital, saw rains before the cyclone, and residents placed sandbags onto their roofs to shield against the wind.

In anticipation of widespread destruction, all land and sea transport was suspended in Madagascar, which is the fourth-largest country in the world.

The National Office for Risk and Disaster Management warned that "almost all regions of the Island are at risk", warning that the cyclone could threaten nearly 600,000.