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Cyclone Belal: Mauritius assesses damage after flash flooding

Authorities in Mauritius are assessing the damage after Cyclone Belal brought torrential rain and flooding to the Indian Ocean island nation.

The country’s meteorological service said the storm was now moving away eastwards, but warned that “other environmental risks” still existed.

At least one person has died in Mauritius and another on Réunion.

Mauritius upgraded the cyclone warning to the maximum level for a while, but said the worst danger had now passed.

About 100 vehicles were damaged and abandoned by their owners as a result of floods that hit the capital Port Louis on Monday.

But flood levels substantially decreased on Tuesday and authorities were able to clear up debris from the streets.

 

Scenes from the waterfront in Port Louis showed widespread destruction.

Authorities said they were carrying out a full assessment of the main roads and critical infrastructure.

The Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) said a “safety bulletin” was now in force as the storm was moving away from Mauritius – this came a few hours after it announced it was raising its alert to four, the maximum level.

It said the storm was now moving eastwards, in the direction of the Indian Ocean, at a speed of about 18km/h (11mph).

“There are no longer any risks of having cyclonic conditions over Mauritius but other environmental risks exist,” it said, urging people to remain in safe places and not to go out to sea, or walk along shorelines, because of the potential for storm surges.

On Monday, Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth confirmed one death, and criticised the MMS for its response to the storm. The MMS director has resigned.

 

“I have to admit that the country has had a difficult time because of Cyclone Belal,” he said, adding that government decisions had relied on information from the meteorological service.

“I share the anger of the people of Mauritius at this time. I am determined that the responsible of this situation must assume their responsibilities.”

map showing the projected path of the storm

The international airport remained closed on Tuesday.

Sheets of metal clattering in the howling wind could be heard in the deserted streets of the Mauritius capital, Port Louis, on Monday, while people further south on the island were dealing with the worst of the weather.

Videos showed severe flash flooding in Port Louis, as well as cars submerged in fast-flowing flood waters.

The International Federation of Red Cross Africa said that more than 1,000 people had been evacuated, and about 8,400 people in Mauritius were without power.

 

Cyclone Belal has already hit nearby Réunion, leaving at least one person dead.

Despite warnings Réunion, a French overseas territory, appeared to have been spared the worst of the cyclone, as the eye of the storm passed to the north.

Jerôme Filippini, the region’s prefect, said it had not had the “cataclysmic character” initially feared.

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