20 killed as powerful storm lashes Madagascar

Storm Eliakim also closed several national highways that were flooded by the heavy rain.
Storm Eliakim also closed several national highways that were flooded by the heavy rain.PHOTO: REUTERS

ANTANANARIVO (AFP) - A powerful tropical storm that lashed the island of Madagascar has left 20 people dead and affected 19,000 more, according to an official toll.

The storm also closed several national highways that were flooded by the heavy rain, the country's disaster management office said late on Monday (March 19).

In a previous toll late on Sunday it said 17 people had died and 15,000 had been affected.

Storm Eliakim slammed into the northeastern Masoala peninsula on Friday before barrelling south down the coast.

By Monday it had moved away from the Indian Ocean island and "presents no more danger".

Madagascar, one of the world's poorest countries, is frequently hit by cyclones and tropical storms.

In January, cyclone Ava claimed 51 lives and in March last year at least 78 people perished in cyclone Enawo.