Image: Madagascar weather
Gregoire Pourtier  /  AFP - Getty Images
An aerial photograph of the Alaotra Nandoro region taken on Tuesday, shows a town surrounded by flood waters nine days after a cyclone hit Madagascar killing 44 people and leaving some 145,000 people without a residence.
updated 2/26/2008 4:56:17 PM ET 2008-02-26T21:56:17

The death toll in Madagascar from Cyclone Ivan stood at 60 Tuesday, with another 17 missing, the government said.

Figures released by the disaster management center also said 147,000 were homeless because of the cyclone that hit Feb. 17 carrying winds of more than 140 mph and torrential rains.

The death toll is expected to rise further as only 85 percent of affected areas have been assessed, said Jean Marie Stratigos, of the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Madagascar.

He noted the island's size — it is the world's fourth-largest island, larger than France or the United Kingdom — and its mountainous terrain. Many parts, especially in the east remain cut off.

Madagascar regularly suffers from cyclones at this time of year and there are fears that global warming may exacerbate the cyclone season. An earlier storm, Cyclone Fame, killed 13 people and last year was the worst season on record — six cyclones killed about 150 people.

Stratigos said the government's preparation ahead of the cyclone season was a "vast improvement" on last year.

Bruno Maes, head of UNICEF in Madagascar, feared more bad weather.

"There is another cyclone in formation around about 531 miles from Madagascar but we don't know its trajectory. The forecast for rain is very bad for the next seven days, so the situation could definitely get worse," he said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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