Capital of Mauritius left underwater and one person dead after tropical cyclone

Cars were washed away by surges of water in the island's capital city. Credit: Eurovision News

A tropical cyclone has killed at least one person in Mauritius, after battering the French island of Reunion.

The Mauritian government said the person who died was a motorcyclist who was killed in an accident caused by the flooding.

Many have been evacuated as the floodwaters caused by Tropical Cyclone Belal threaten houses and other buildings.

Watch as people desperately try to escape their cars swept up in the flood

Schools were closed and hospitals ordered to only keep their emergency departments open.

Everyone except emergency workers, health workers, members of the security services and those requiring medical treatment was ordered to stay at home until noon on Tuesday.

The main airport closed and flights into and out of the island nation of 1.2 million people were cancelled until further notice.

In Mauritius, motorists who had escaped from cars were seen being pulled to safety from the flood waters by others.

Vehicles were left piled up, some of them overturned, after the floodwaters receded.

Homes and offices were flooded, reportedly along with the Central Bank of Mauritius.

Tropical Cyclone Belal had earlier also battered the nearby French island of Reunion, where local authorities said the intense rains and powerful winds left about a quarter of households without electricity.

Reunion had declared the highest storm alert level on Sunday as Belal approached.

But the alert was lifted after the worst of the storm passed Reunion on Monday afternoon and charged toward Mauritius, around 135 miles to the northeast.

Cyclones are common between January and March in the Indian Ocean near southern Africa as seas in the southern hemisphere reach their warmest temperatures.

Scientists say human-caused climate change has intensified extreme weather, making cyclones more frequent and rainier when they hit.

Some climate scientists have identified a direct link between global warming and the intensity of some cyclones in the region.

In 2019, Cyclone Idai ripped into Africa from the Indian Ocean, leaving more than 1,000 people dead in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe and causing a humanitarian crisis.

The United Nations said it was one of the deadliest storms on record in the southern hemisphere.