An afternoon FREAK TOT flash flood killed a family of five and a guide hiking in Madagascar, witnesses said.
The family – a French father, a Malagasy mother, their two-year-old child, an uncle and a grandmother – yesterday hiked with a guide through a canyon in Isalo, a popular tourist destination in the south of the country.
They had turned around when it started to rain, but they were caught when the rain suddenly turned into a downpour.
“They got trapped,” said Isalo guide Olivier Rasambahita, 50, who was leading a separate group in the same canyon at the time.
“I have never seen the water rise so fast, it reached two meters (6.5 feet) in a few minutes,” he said, adding that the downpour occurred around 1:00 p.m. local time. “which never happens”.
One of his clients, a 31-year-old French woman, said Rasambahita made them run to escape the rising waters.
“We met them at the natural pool at the end of the hike as they were about to leave with their guide,” she says.
“The grandmother was already on her way back with her cane, but she was moving very slowly.
“Behind us, we heard the parents singing a lullaby to their baby, who was crying because of the thunder.”
Then, “we heard a huge wave breaking, like a dragon coming behind us.”
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The rainy season in Madagascar is between November and April, but showers usually occur at the end of the day.
Rasambahita walked his clients back to the car and returned to pick up the family and his colleague.
“That’s when I saw the couple’s bodies floating at the entrance to the canyon,” he said.