Réunion Island Braces for ‘Very Dangerous’ Cyclone Belal

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Residents Urged to Take Shelter

Authorities in France’s Réunion island have issued a warning to residents, urging them to stay indoors and take precautions as Cyclone Belal, a devastating tropical storm, lashes the Indian Ocean island with hurricane-force winds. The island, a French overseas territory with a population of nearly 900,000, is under a purple cyclone alert, the highest-level storm warning. Residents have been instructed to seek shelter, stock up on essential supplies, and remain indoors for a 36-hour lockdown until Tuesday morning. Emergency services are also adhering to the strict lockdown measures, and the main airport suspended operations on Sunday afternoon.

Island Under Purple Cyclone Alert

The island has been placed under a purple cyclone alert from early Monday due to the intensification of Cyclone Belal. This rare and extreme alert level indicates the severity of the storm and the potential danger it poses to residents. President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern for the island’s residents, issuing a warning on social media: “To the residents of Reunion: Cyclone Belal red alert. Be careful, stay at home. The State is mobilized at your side.” The last cyclone to impact Réunion occurred in 2014, but meteorologists have drawn parallels between the current storm and one that struck the island in the 1960s.

Casualty and Potential Flood Surges

Cyclone Belal has claimed at least one life on the island, as a homeless person succumbed to the storm due to lack of shelter. Authorities emphasize the seriousness of the situation, with Prefect Jérôme Filippini warning of potential flood surges at levels unseen for the past 100 years. The storm’s winds are expected to exceed 200 km/h on the coast and 250 km/h in the highlands, with the possibility of 15-meter tall waves on the coast. Meteo France, the country’s meteorological service, highlights the strong probability of the storm’s eye passing directly over or close to the island on Monday.

Presidential Alert and Historical Comparisons

President Macron’s public warning underscores the gravity of the situation, emphasizing the need for residents to prioritize their safety and adhere to lockdown measures. Meteorologists compare the current storm with historical precedents, drawing attention to the potential impact and severity of Cyclone Belal. The island’s vulnerability to extreme weather events necessitates coordinated efforts from authorities and residents to mitigate risks and ensure the well-being of the population during this dangerous cyclone.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Flickr

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