Antananarivo - At least three people were killed and 83 reported missing after a strong tropical storm, Cyclone Ernest, hit Madagascar over the weekend, Malagasy officials said on Thursday.

Two fishermen off the Indian Ocean island's southern Tsihombe region and a child in the southwest district of Tulear were killed as a result of the storm, they said.

"There were a lot of fishermen at sea whose boats probably capsized," said Doly Rajaonarivelo, chief of the Androy district which includes Tsihombe.

"Villagers have already fished out two bodies and 83 people are reported missing," he said by telephone, adding that the death toll could rise as more details of the cyclone's damage become available.

In the capital, Jacky Randriaharison, the executive secretary of Madagascar's National Emergency Centre (CNS), said a 12-year-old boy had drowned in Tulear where floods also left 960 people homeless.

He said a CNS team was heading to the affected areas to search for the 83 missing and provide water, shelter and clothing to the homeless.

Madagascar was last hit by a deadly tropical storm in March 2004, when Cyclone Gafilo killed 241 people. In February of that year, Cyclone Elita killed 29 people on the island.

Cyclone season in Madagascar runs between December and March. - Sapa-AFP