24 March 2005

Mauritius on alert for tropical storm Hennie

Mauritius has issued a storm alert as severe tropical storm Hennie approaches the Indian Ocean island, the world's seventh biggest sugar producer. The Mauritius Meteorological Services (MMS) said "Hennie", spotted at about 330km to the north of Mauritius, was moving in a southerly direction at 10kph.

"This trajectory may bring the centre (of the storm) closer to Mauritius today," the MMS said in a statement late yesterday. "Hence increasing the risk of cyclonic conditions in Mauritius." The MMS said a cyclone warning Class Two was now in force in Mauritius.

Mauritians to take precautions
A Class Two warning urges the 1.2 million population to take precautions such as ensuring they have adequate emergency supplies of food and a gas stove. In the capital Port Louis, there was heavy rain and people queued in supermarkets to stock up on candles, loaves of bread and tinned foods. The impact of cyclonic rains on the sugar crop is a major concern in Mauritius. An economic mainstay, sugar is harvested from June to December.

Mauritius was last hit by a severe cyclone on February 13, 2003, when tropical storm Gerry devastated houses in some poorer areas and caused power cuts. Gerry also hit sugar output, with officials revising down the annual sugar production by 20 000 tonnes. The cyclone season for Mauritius extends from November to mid-May with January and February as the peak months.


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