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Cyclone lashes Reunion

Cyclone lashes Reunion

Nearly 100,000 homes on Reunion were left without electricity on Thursday after a cyclone came close to scoring a direct hit on the French Indian Ocean island.

Winds of up to 180 kilometres per hour (110 miles per hour) and torrential rain caused extensive damage to the electricity network after cyclone Dumile passed within 90 kilometres of the island’s west coast at around 0900 GMT.

EDF, the electricity supplier, said power to 95,000 homes had been cut by nightfall, by which time the storm was abating.

An unspecified number of homes were also without water and the storm did extensive damage to avocado and other crops.

But human casualties were limited. Jean-Luc Marx, the island’s prefect, said only 14 people had suffered slight injuries while a total of 170 had felt obliged to leave their homes to seek shelter in reception centres set up to house anyone concerned for their safety.

A red alert requiring all residents to stay inside was lifted at 1600 GMT. The order had been ignored by several thrill-seekers who received 135-euro ($177) fines for venturing out to witness the 10-metre-high waves at first hand.

The cyclone was the first to hit Reunion since February 2007, when two people were swept to their deaths in an overflowing river.

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