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Madagascar suspends schools as cyclone Freddy approaches

Madagascar’s government on Tuesday suspended schools and transport in the path of tropical cyclone Freddy, which was likely to make landfall in the southeast of the country by evening.

The cyclone is expected to hit Mananjary district, about 270 km from the capital Antananarivo, with winds of nearly 155 km per hour, Madagascar’s meteorological services said.

Heavy rains and waves of over 26 feet are expected near the impact zone, the International Federation of Red Cross said on Twitter, issuing a red alert for the area.

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All traffic in cyclone Freddy’s projected path was suspended overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, the country’s ministry of transport and meteorology said.

The ministry of education said it had suspended classes in at least 10 regions.

Cyclone Freddy is expected to make landfall nearly a month after storm Cheneso battered the island nation of 29 million, killing 33 people and forcing thousands from their homes.

Madagascar is hit by an average of 1.5 cyclones every year, the highest in Africa, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

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“It is expected to cause locally devastating winds and a very dangerous sea state near the impact zone in Madagascar,” UNOCHA said on Monday.

After crossing Madagascar, Freddy could emerge in the Mozambican Channel and strengthen again, before making landfall in Mozambique and potentially moving on to Zimbabwe, affecting more than 3.3 million in total, UNOCHA said, citing a World Food Programme assessment.

The cyclone passed 120 km northwest of Mauritius on Monday afternoon, forcing some 500 people into shelters, while damaged power lines left another 500 families without electricity, the national broadcaster reported.

Flights which had been grounded late on Sunday had resumed on Tuesday morning, according to Mauritius’ airports operator.

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