Approaching cyclone may lead to more flooding in Mauritius

Henry

Flooding in Mauritius brought the popular tourist attraction to a standstill on Monday, with tropical cyclone Belal moving ever closer to the island. The cyclone has already caused great damage in RĂ©union, an island in the Indian Ocean.

Photos posted by local media on Monday show, among other things, how vehicles are being swept away by floodwaters.

The international airport on the island has meanwhile indicated that it will close at 16:30 (local time in Mauritius) until further notice. Banks, government offices and private businesses also closed their doors and sent staff home.

Mauritius’ weather service (MMS) has issued a level 3 (out of 4) warning and warned people to seek shelter in a safe place. Heavy rain is expected over the next few hours.

By 15:00 (South African time) the cyclone was about 170 km west of Le Morne, in the south-western part of the island. The storm is moving at about 12 km per hour in an east-southeast direction.

“Against this trend, Belal is moving dangerously closer to Mauritius, and poses a great danger to the island,” MMS said.

An AFP correspondent says widespread rain has already caused chaos in the capital Port Louis and other regions on the island.

According to MMS, the cyclone is likely to move over the southern part of the island, It is expected early Tuesday morning south of the island.

Low-lying areas near the coastline are particularly at risk.

Mauritius is a major attraction for tourists worldwide thanks to its picture-perfect white beaches and clear waters.

However, numerous storms and cyclones arise every year between November and April in the south-west Indian Ocean.

Cyclone Freddy caused large-scale rain in Mauritius in February last year and wreaked havoc in south-east Africa, including in countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.