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Brittany Cyclone France Natural disasters Reunion Island

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Island of Reunion is in a state of natural catastrophe, says France after cyclone hits

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A destroyed house in Saint-Pierre, Reunion on 3 January 2014. AFP / Richard Bouhet

France announced a state of natural catastrophe in the Indian Ocean island of Reunion on Saturday after a powerful cyclone battered the coast with huge waves and heavy winds.


One person was killed and 16 others suffered injuries during Thursday and Friday’s storm.

France’s minister of overseas territories Victorin Lurel, who arrived there Saturday morning, said residents of Reunion will be eligible to make insurance claims for damages caused by cyclone Bejisa, the island’s worst storm in 20 years.

Winds up to 150 kilometres an hour uprooted trees, caused heavy flooding and cut power for 180,000 customers, according to French utility company EDF, which has sent personnel from France to help restore power already to some 100,000 homes.

A further 80,000 homes in seven of the island’s 24 districts were bereft of running water after the storm hit.

Lurel assured local mayors that France’s response will be equal to the current one being administered on France's western coast of Brittany where flooding has occurred throughout the holiday season and is currently under an “orange” alert.