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Live Tweeting Madagascar: Antananarivo on fire, rumors of president fleeing

Update (19:09 GMT): Although there are still rumors that President Ravalomanana has left the country, others report the rumors are false.   Daniel Austin twitters, “All indications from reliable sources suggest that the rumour Ravalomanana has fled Madagascar is false.”  Thierry Ratsizehena twitters the government will declare martial law.  The media have stopped broadcasting and the facts remain unclear.  GV will continue updating as more information becomes available.

In the 24h span starting late night January 25th, after massive protests, a series of dramatic developments have taken place in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar.

Update (15:23 GMT): Unconfirmed by mainstream media sources, but confirmed by the author's family, it appears President Ravalomanana and his family may have left the country.

Initial reports confirm that several television and radio stations have stopped broadcasting. Several buildings, among them a 5 star hotel and a few shopping centers, were set ablaze or hit with stones. Two casualties were reported (yet to be comfirmed by independent sources) and the latest posts indicate that entire blocks are on fire.

The twittosphere in Madagascar provides regular updates of ongoing troubles via text messages and mobile web. The fact that the internet is not yet perceived as an effective tool of mass media communication in Madagascar may have led to its continuous availability so far. Here is a translation of a sumarized  timeline of the events from the initial unrest as told by microbloggers:

January 25th,

- The first post by thierry at 15h GMT announced that the VIVA radio will be seized later in the evening.

- at 16h GMT R1lita reports demonstration dowtown  and wonders whether some of the manifestants were paid to come.

- at 18h GMT tandriamirado posts that VIVA radio is asking the population to block the armed forces from seizing their building.

at 20h GMT Barijaona reports vandalism and stones thrown on building in 67ha quarter.

-  at 22 GMT several posts indicate that alleged foreign mercenaries have entered VIVA radio and it has stopped broadcasting.

January 26th,

- 05h GMT: reports of national radio (RNM) and television (TVM) not broadcasting.

- 07h GMT: vandalism perpetraded against Magro shopping center . Armed forces intervenes.

- 10 GMT: Personal homes of politicians are set on fire.

- 4 hours ago: 2 dead civilians reported and the pro-government radio has stopped emitting and is on fire.

- 3 hours ago: rehita posts that military forces leave the building (RNM) they were suppose to protect

- 22 minutes ago: papajoe786 reports that shopping center in the south (Antsirabe and Fianaratsoa) were set on fire.

-  8 min jago: the  whole neighborhood of Ambohimitsimbona where satellites are located is on fire.

- 5 min ago: fidy posts that presidential airplane is ready to leave with the presidential family

Editor's note: As of this post's timestamp, unconfirmed by mainstream media sources, but confirmed by the author's family, it appears President Ravalomanana and his family may have left the country.

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