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Powerful cyclone batters France’s Reunion island

AFP

Cyclone Bejisa hit the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion on Thursday, battering the coast with huge waves and leaving thousands of homes without power.

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At least eight people were injured by the storm, in which winds reached 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour.

French utility company EDF said about 100,000 households on La Reunion – which is on red alert – had no electricity.

About 80,000 homes in seven of the island's 24 districts were without running water.

Waves of more than eight metres (26 feet) high broke along the coast and were expected to grow during the course of the day.

Residents had earlier been advised to stock up on emergency supplies, such as water, food, batteries and candles.

The French weather service predicted that Bejisa would reach up to 200 km per hour later, and ts eye was about 75 kilometres in diameter. But the eyewall – where the greatest wind speeds occur – is expected to brush the coast.

The deputy mayor of the western town of Saint-Leu ordered those living near the coast to leave their homes and take shelter further inland as residents braced for more havoc.

"The cyclone has not even struck and yet it has caused so much damage," said a resident from the western town of Saint-Gilles.

"I don't know what will happen when it's over us."

Reunion suffered heavy damage in 2002 due to cyclone Dina, which claimed six lives and caused widespread flooding.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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