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Devastating floods in Madagascar seen from space

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International Space Station (ISS) and NASA's Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat-8 captured the devastating flood that spread in Madagascar in January 2020, which killed 31, displaced 16 000 people, affected 107 000 individuals, and prompted the government to declare a national emergency.

"Our thoughts are with those affected. Stay safe," ISS astronaut Christina Koch posted as a caption on her social media account as she posted the images that showed rivers running red in severe inundation.

Koch has spent 11 months in orbit and set a record for the longest spaceflight by a woman.

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​Image credit: Koch, ISS

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​Image credit: Koch, ISS

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​Image credit: Koch, ISS

"Floods and landslides were reported in the Alaotra Mangoro, Analamanga, Betsiboka, Boeny, Melaky, and Sofia regions," NASA wrote, sharing natural-color images of sediment-filled rivers pouring into Helodrano Mahajambe, northwestern Madagascar.

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Image credit: NASA/Landsat 8-OLI

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Image credit: NASA/Landsat 8-OLI

The town of Mahajanga registered 258 mm (14 inches) of rainfall from January 19 to 25, and 592 mm (23 inches) for the month of January, according to AccuWeather. The normal rainfall is 292 mm (11 inches) for the month.

Arrachart received 192 mm (7.55 inches) from January 19 to25 and 495 mm (19.50 inches) throughout January. The average January amount is 159 mm (6 inches).

Marovoay was heavily submerged, while the RN4 highway from Antananarivo to the north was also affected, making relief efforts difficult.

On January 27, the government declared the situation a national emergency. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs said the death toll, which stands at 31, may rise as many people are still missing.

Over 10 000 houses were deluged in floodwater, with 146 destroyed. Moreover, infrastructure and roads received major damage.

107 000 people have been affected in at least seven regions of the country, with food shortage being feared due to flooded rice fields.

Featured image credit: NASA/Landsat 8-OLI

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