French island of Réunion recovers after cyclone

One person died and 15 were injured after a cyclone packing winds of 150 kilometres (95 miles) an hour brushed by the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, officials said on Friday. Parts of Brittany, meanwhile, have been hit by severe flooding.

French island of Réunion recovers after cyclone
Cyclone Bejisa, with winds of up to 150 km/h, batters the coast of the French island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Photo: Screengrab/Animax2013/Youtube

A red alert asking residents to remain indoors was lifted on Friday.

But the cyclone caused widespread damage uprooting trees, damaging and flooding dozens of homes and severing power and water supplies.

The sole death from Thursday's cyclone Bejisa was an elderly person found outdoors, La Reunion's top government official Jean-Luc Marx said.

Two of those injured were in serious condition after falling from a roof and a ladder while trying to secure their homes, local officials said.

State-run power firm EDF said downed lines cut electricity to about 172,000 households.

Around 200,000 people – roughly a quarter of the island's population – had water cut to their homes.

The eye of Cyclone Bejisa passed within 15 kilometres (10 miles) of the western side of Reunion.

Waves more than eight metres (26 feet) high lashed the coast (as seen in the video below).

Several trees and traffic lights were uprooted on the island.

"The cyclone has not even struck and yet it has caused so much damage," said a resident from the western town of Saint-Gilles earlier on Thursday.

"I don't know what will happen when it's over us."

La Réunion suffered heavy damage in 2002 due to cyclone Dina, which claimed six lives and caused widespread flooding.

A man surveys flood levels in the Brittany town of Quimperlé on Thursday. Photo: D. Meyer/AFP

Back on the French mainland, three departments in Brittany were on alert for flooding on Thursday, after a storm hit the western region on New Year's Day. 

A woman aged in her 50s was killed in Morbihan on Wednesday, when a tree uprooted by strong winds fell on the car in which she was a passenger, French TV TF1 reported.

The departments of Finistère, Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine remained on orange alert for flooding until 4pm on Thursday at the earliest, with water levels dangerous in several regional rivers, and a "high tidal coefficient" present in coastal areas.

The town of Quimperlé in Finistère experienced particular severe flooding on Wednesday and Thursday, as the river Laita overflowed on to the streets of the town. 

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France confirms wing part is from flight MH370

French prosecutors confirmed on Thursday that a piece of debris found on the Indian island of Réunion was from the Malaysian airlines flight MH370.

France confirms wing part is from flight MH370
A policeman and a gendarme stand next to the piece of debris on Réunion island. Photo: AFP
French prosecutors confirmed that the wing part was from the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a month after tests on the flaperon began.
“It is possible today to say with certainty that the flaperon discovered on Reunion island on July 29 came from flight MH370,” Paris prosecutors said in a statement, confirming claims made by Malaysia's prime minister early last month.
In the statement on Thursday, prosecutors said investigators discovered three numbers on the wing part, and later concluded that one of the figures corresponded to the serial number of an MH370 flaperon.
French authorities had initially been more cautious about confirming that the piece was from the missing aircraft, only stating at the time that there was a “very high probability” it came from the plane.

(The wreckage on the island of Réunion. Photo: BFM TV/screengrab) 

The find raised hopes of finally solving the mystery of what happened to the plane, prompting investigators to search a maritime surface of 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 square miles) and scour the island's eastern coastline.

But the searches did “not led to the identification of anything that could have a link with a plane,” the French state's representative on the island, Dominique Sorain, said last month after calling off the search. 

(A closer look at the “flaperon” on a Boeing 777. Photo: WikiCommons)
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