At least 21 people have died in Madagascar following a week of severe rain in the north-west of the island, the government said on Friday.

The tropical Indian Ocean is in the midst of an intense six-month rainy season that often leads to mortalities and widespread damage.

Flooding in the districts of Mitsinjo and Maevatanana has claimed 21 lives since Sunday, 20 more people are still missing and thousands displaced, the National Bureau of Disaster Risk Management announced on Friday.

Nine people were killed in January 2019 after heavy rains caused the collapse of a building in the capital Antananarivo.

Strips of road were swept away by the rains and access to affected areas has been cut off.

Flooding in lowland and rice-growing areas posed a risk of “food insecurity and malnutrition”.The BNGRC Warned

A disruption in the supply of basic goods could also lead to rise in prices, it added.

Opposition lawmaker Hanitriniaina Razafimanantsoa called on President Andry Rajoelina to declare a “natural disaster”.

The rainy season usually stretches from October to April in Madagascar, a former French colony off Africa’s southeastern coast.

The country is also often hit by cyclones and other tropical storms,during the period if the heavy rain.

Cyclone Belna landed in the northwest last month, killing at least two people and displacing hundreds.