Cyclone Belal has caused damage on the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Réunion, causing heavy rain, flash flooding, and damage to infrastructure. The cyclone, which made authorities to issue maximum-level cyclone alerts, has led to at least one confirmed death, power outages, and disrupted daily life.
Mauritius has been struggling with the Cyclone Belal. The cyclone brought torrential rain and strong winds, resulting in flash flooding in the capital, Port Louis.
Videos and images depict cars submerged in fast-flowing floodwaters, streets resembling rivers, and buildings inundated.
The official response to Cyclone Belal in Mauritius has been multifaceted. The country’s meteorological service upgraded the cyclone warning to the maximum level, making the government to implement precautionary measures, including a curfew.
However, many people emerged regarding the adequacy of the response, with Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth expressing dissatisfaction with the meteorological service’s handling of the situation.
At least one person lost their life in a road accident caused by the flooding, underlining the dangers associated with such extreme weather events. Over 1,000 people have been evacuated, and thousands remain without power.
The response to Cyclone Belal has involved an effort from various authorities, including emergency services, the National Crisis Committee, and the Central Electricity Board.
Evacuations have been carried out to the safety of residents in the areas, while the curfew is to minimize unnecessary risks.
The closure of the international airport, leading to disruptions in air travel. The evacuation efforts have showed the situation in certain regions to flooding.
One aspect of the aftermath has been the criticism directed at the Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS).
Prime Minister Jugnauth publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the MMS, leading to the resignation of the agency’s director.
The Prime Minister addressed the country’s reliance on meteorological information for decision-making. The neighboring French overseas territory, Réunion, also faced the impact of Cyclone Belal.
While the island prepared for the worst with a maximum-level cyclone alert, the eye of the storm passed to the north, sparing Réunion from the catastrophic conditions feared.
The island still experienced rains and powerful winds, leading to power outages, disruptions in communication, and at least one reported fatality.
Cyclone Belal’s intensity underline the vulnerability of the southwest Indian Ocean region to tropical cyclones, particularly during the November-April cyclone season.
The link between climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of cyclones in the region concerns about the long-term resilience of island nations like Mauritius.
Tourism has been affected. With nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP dependent on tourism, disruptions caused by natural disasters pose economic challenges.