Reunion island counts cost after cyclone

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 23 Jan 2002
SAINT-DENIS, Reunion, Jan 23 (AFP) - The French Indian Ocean island of Reunion was Wednesday struggling to cope with widespread property damage and energy cuts after being savaged by a cyclone packing winds of up to 250 kilometres (155 miles) per hour.

"Severe damage" had been caused to buildings and electricity and water networks by cyclone Dina, which hit Tuesday, Reunion's prefect, or top government official, Gonthier Friederici, said. Two people were injured.

Half the island's homes were without power, 2,500 people were in emergency shelters and fallen trees, downed electricity lines and mudslides littered the roads, making movement impossible, officials said, adding that it would be days before the extent of the destruction was known.

The farmers association said the resulting loss of crops -- the island's main source of revenue -- had been "catastrophic".

Although the cyclone was moving away farther south from Reunion, heavy rains were expected in its wake, adding to the flooding already being experienced in many areas.

Around 120 firefighters were to be flown in from France later Wednesday to help with the clean-up and to restore vital services.

French President Jacques Chirac issued a message to the people of Reunion in which he expressed his "deepest personal sympathy as well as the support and full solidarity of the country".

The minister responsible for overseas French territories, Christian Paul, said in Paris he would go to Reunion on Friday to see what government aid would be required.

bur/rmb/dc/txw AFP

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Received by NewsEdge Insight: 01/23/2002 07:38:46

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