SHARE
COPY LINK

WEATHER

Réunion island mops up after deadly cyclone

Cyclone Bejisa hammered parts of the French island of Réunion on Thursday night, claiming at least one life, leaving 15 injured, and cutting off water and electricity for hundreds of thousands.

Réunion island mops up after deadly cyclone
Residents of the French island of Réunion struggle to make it through the streets amid Cyclone Bejisa's 150-kmh winds on Thursday. Photo: Richard Bouhet/AFP

One person died and 15 were injured after a cyclone packing winds of 150 kilometres (95 miles) an hour passed over the French Indian Ocean island of Réunion, officials said on Friday.

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 (see video below).

The sole death from Thursday's cyclone Bejisa was an elderly person found outdoors, La Réunion's top government official Jean-Luc Marx said. The mayor of the town of Saint Leu, however, told French TV TF1 that there had in fact been "at least two deaths."

Two of the 15 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 Réunion.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

SHOW COMMENTS