File photo of canyon in Isalo National Park in southwest Madagascar. Alamy Stock Photo

Flash flood kills family and tour guide in Madagascar

They had turned back when it started to rain, but got caught up when the rain suddenly turned into a downpour.

A FREAK EARLY afternoon flash flood has killed a family of five and a guide out on a hike in Madagascar, witnesses said.

The family – a French father, Madagascan mother, their two-year-old child, an uncle and a grandmother – were hiking with a guide yesterday in a canyon in Isalo, a popular tourist destination in the south of the country.

They had turned back when it started to rain, but got caught up when the rain suddenly turned into a downpour.

“They became trapped,” said Isalo guide Olivier Rasambahita, 50, who was accompanying a separate group in the same canyon at the time.

“I’ve never seen the water rise so quickly, it reached two metres (6.5 feet) in a few minutes,” he said, adding the downpour occurred at around 1.00 pm local time “which never happens”.

One of his clients, a 31-year-old French woman said that Rasambahita had pushed them to run to escape the rising waters.

“We came across them at the natural pool at the end of the hike as they were getting ready to leave again with their guide,” she said.

“The grandmother was already on the way back with her cane, but she was advancing very slowly.

“Behind us, we heard the parents sing a lullaby to their baby, who was crying because of the thunder.”

Then, “we heard an enormous wave surge, like a dragon coming behind us”.

Madagascar’s rainy season falls between November and April but downpours usually occur at the end of the day.

Rasambahita accompanied his clients back to the car and went back to look for the family and his colleague.

“That’s when I saw the bodies of the couple floating at the entrance of the canyon,” he said.

© AFP 2022

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