15 hurt as powerful cyclone brushes France’s Reunion island

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la réunion

A man faces fierce winds on January 2, 2014 in Le Port, in the French La Reunion overseas island
© AFP Richard Bouhet

Le Port (Réunion) (AFP) – A cyclone packing winds of 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour brushed by the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion Thursday, injuring 15 people, damaging houses and disrupting power supplies.

Two of those hurt were in serious condition after falling from a roof and a ladder while trying to secure their homes, local officials said. The other 13 were slightly hurt in similar incidents despite warnings against venturing outside.

State-run power supplier EDF said downed lines cut electricity to about 170,000 households on Reunion. Around 200,000 people — roughly a quarter of the island’s population — had water cut to their homes. Many roads were made impassable by fallen trees and flooding.

The eye of Cyclone Bejisa passed within 15 kilometres (10 miles) of the western side of Reunion Island and was now headed south.

A cyclonic swell sweeps the coast on January 2, 2014 in Saint-Gilles, in the French La Reunion overseas island
© AFP Richard Bouhet

“The worst is over, but the winds will continue to blow strongly” over much of the cyclone-prone island, meteorologist Philippe Caroff said.

At its peak, the cyclone sent waves of more than eight metres (26 feet) crashing into the coast.

The deputy mayor of the western town of Saint-Leu had ordered those living near the seashore to leave their homes and take shelter further inland.

Reunion suffered heavy damage nearly exactly 12 years ago when Cyclone Dina, which claimed six lives and caused widespread flooding, struck.


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