Strong winds and pouring rain batter the mauritius coastline in Mahebourg a small fishing village on February 2, 2022. (Photo by Laura MOROSOLI / AFP)
Thousands of homes were left without power in Mauritius on Wednesday as powerful cyclone winds battered the Indian Ocean island nation.
Tropical cyclone Batsirai passed within about 130 kilometres (80 miles) of the holiday paradise, bringing heavy downpours and winds of around 120 kilometres per hour, with a peak of 151 kilometres per hour recorded in the capital Port Louis.
Life was brought to a standstill, with public transport cancelled, shops and banks shut, and air and sea travel halted.
At least 7,500 homes were without power after the winds knocked down trees onto electricity lines, according to the local electricity board. The telephone network was also disrupted.
The reopening of schools, closed since November because of the spread of the Covid variant Omicron, could not take place as planned.
“Cyclonic conditions will persist on the island until late evening,” said a statement from the weather service.
The French island of Reunion, which lies about 230 kilometres southwest of Mauritius, was on red alert for the likely passage of cyclone Batsirai overnight.
In 2007, two people were killed in Mauritius and nine hurt in Reunion when a cyclone hit the islands.
Tropical storms and torrential rains have also wreaked havoc in southern Africa in recent days, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
Tropical Storm Ana claimed the lives of 86 people in Mozambique, Madagascar and Malawi last week.