Cyclone Berguitta threatens Mauritius, Reunion
A cyclone in the southwest Indian Ocean was heading on Tuesday towards the holiday paradise of Mauritius and the French island of La Reunion, government officials and weather experts said.
The storm on Monday amplified to the status of intense tropical cyclone -- broadly equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic, they said.
However, it was downgraded on Tuesday to a tropical cyclone, roughly equivalent to a Category 2 event, packing heavy rain and peak gusts of 150-180 kilometers (93-111 miles) per hour, said Francois Jobard, a forecaster with the French weather service Meteo France.
Berguitta was likely to strike Mauritius on Wednesday and pass on Thursday by La Reunion to the southeast, when it would be probably downgraded to the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane, he said.
Mauritius' minister for social security and the environent, Etienne Sinatambou, said the cyclone was likely to strike at around late morning on Wednesday.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam international airport has been ordered to close ahead of landfall, Airports of Mauritius, which operates the facility, said.
On La Reunion, an overseas department of France, the local prefecture called on the public to ensure they had supplies of tinned food, bottled water, batteries and medication, and said airline flight schedules would be disrupted by the storm.
Powerful circular tropical storms are known in the Atlantic as hurricanes, in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific as cyclones and in the Northwest Pacific as typhoons.