World News

Mauritius closes main airport as cyclone Calvinia approaches

PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritius closed its main airport on Monday and shops and other businesses in the capital also closed as the tropical cyclone Calvinia approached.

The Indian Ocean island’s meteorological service said Calvinia had remained almost stationary for some time at about 120 kilometres (72 miles) east of Mahebourg, a small village in southeastern Mauritius.

“A movement towards the west will bring the centre closer to Mauritius,” the weather service said in a statement.

Gusts of up to 120 km an hour were expected to hit Mauritius by early afternoon on Monday and the airport, Port Louis Harbour, was ordered closed from noon local time.

The meteorological service declared a class III alert -- indicating a storm with winds between 111 and 129 miles per hour -- for the cyclone and Air Mauritius, the national carrier, postponed all arrivals and departures until further notice, it said in a statement.

Port Louis Harbour is Mauritius’s principal gateway and handles about virtually all external trade, including key imports for the population of 1.3 million such as food and oil.

In 1994, Cyclone Hollanda killed two people, destroyed 450 homes and caused $135 million in damage when it hit Mauritius.

Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Larry King