Africa: Cyclone Prompts Evacuation On French Island of Mayotte

Tropical Cyclone (file photo).
8 December 2019

The government has evacuated some of the island's quarter of a million inhabitants and told locals to stock up on water. Global climate breakdown is increasing the frequency of extreme weather in the Indian Ocean.

The French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte was bracing for a major cyclone on Sunday, as authorities urged inhabitants to stock up on water. Cyclone Belna is expected to make landfall around 7 pm local time.

Government representative Jean-Francois Colombet said the EU outermost region of 256,000 inhabitants was at risk of "very serious consequences" and that authorities had begun making sure the most at-risk inhabitants were indoors and evacuating the most exposed areas of the island.

This is the third major cyclone to hit the island in 50 years, according to Colombet. The government has closed the airport and most roads.

Madagascar, 685 kilometers south of Mayotte, was also believed to be in the cyclone's path.

Mayotte is an overseas department of France, having chosen against indepedence in a 1974 referendum that saw nearby Comoros become a soverign state.

Scientists warned in November that global climate breakdown is "supercharging" the Indian Ocean climate system, and extreme weather events are only going to become more common.

(AFP, dpa)


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