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Cyclone besieges Madagascar

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  • Storm makes landfall with sustained winds of 69 mph
  • Damage assessment is difficult because of lack of power, CARE official says
  • Many people in Madagascar live in huts, CARE official says
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(CNN) -- A cyclone with sustained winds of 69 mph swept across Madagascar on Sunday, knocking out power in some areas and making damage assessment difficult.

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A satellite view shows the storm over the island nation of Madagascar at noon Monday.

"No one has been able to get there yet. There is no electricity, no telephone. We know nothing about what happened there," said Didier Young, emergency coordinator for the humanitarian group CARE.

CARE workers hoped to take a helicopter over the hardest-hit areas later Monday. Young said bad weather prevented an earlier flyover.

Cyclone Ivan made landfall on the island's northeastern coast with sustained winds near 70 mph (111 km/h), according to the Typhoon Warning Center.

Young said information has trickled out about the storm, including one assessment from a man who rode out on a motorbike. He told CARE officials that roads were impassable by car and that there was heavy damage.

Young said many people in the country of 19.4 million live in huts.

"The huts are not very strong," he said. "The houses are made of local materials."

As of noon, the storm had weakened and was moving southwest over land, according to AccuWeather.com. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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