In Madagascar's coastal areas, residents prepare for cyclone Batsirai

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Residents of Madagascar prepare for Cycline Batsirai forecast to hit the island's east coast Saturday with intense winds.

Villagers from the Moramanga district in Madagascar are busy. It is not the calm before the storm, everyone is preparing for the arrival of Cyclone Batsirai on Saturday. After passing through Mauritius, the cyclone is expected to make landfall on Madagascar's east coast.

Here, the program for the next few hours is simple: prepare as much as possible. "This morning we heard on Radio Nationale Malgache (RNM) that the wind gusts will be very strong. That's why the roofs are being reinforced", Tsarafidy Ben Ali says.

In the cities, people are busy as well. While there is still time, the population makes provisions before everything shuts down. Sahaza Andriamiharisoa is one of the many resdients who went to the grocery shop ahead of the storm: "We are afraid of the increase in the price of basic necessities, especially during this cyclone period. That's why we have stocked up on food so that we don't leave the house".

About 4.4 million of Madagascar's 28 million people are at risk, with nearly 600,000 expected to be directly affected and more than 150,000 likely to be displaced, according to officials.

Madagascar has put six of its regions on high alert as tropical Cyclone Batsirai approaches with intense winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour being focrecast.

The cyclone comes just a week after Tropical Storm Ana left a trail of destruction through Madagascar and killing at least 34 people. In the capital Antananarivo, many low-lying neighborhoods that were flooded in January are expecting renewed inundation from the new cyclone.

The UN's World Food Programme has prepositioned food to provide aid, and also masks to help limit the spread of Covid among the displaced.

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