PORT LOUIS (Reuters) - Mauritius closed its port and airport on Wednesday after raising its warning as a potentially dangerous tropical cyclone approached the Indian Ocean island nation.
Authorities raised their alert to class III as tropical cyclone Berguitta approached in a bid to allow at least six hours of daylight before the arrival of gusts of up to 120 km/h (75 mph).
The island’s meteorological services said Berguitta, a category three cyclone, was centered 340 km (210 miles) northeast of Mauritius before dawn on Wednesday and was moving in a southwesterly direction at a 7 km/h (4 mph).
“On this trajectory, tropical cyclone Berguitta is dangerously approaching Mauritius and represents a direct threat to the island,” the meteorological service said in a statement.
It warned the public to complete safety precautions and said gusts hitting 120 km/h could be expected by Wednesday evening, causing rough sea conditions.
The Airport of Mauritius said the airport would be closed from 7 a.m. (0300 GMT) until further notice.
The country’s main port was also closed.
Port Louis Harbour, the main port, was also closed. It is the country’s principal gateway and handles about 99 percent of the total volume of external trade.
All strategic imports, such as food and petroleum products, and raw materials for the textile industry, as well as major exports such as sugar and textile transit through the harbor.
Cyclone Hollanda killed two people, destroyed 450 homes and caused $135 million in damage when it hit Mauritius in February 1994.
The small Indian Ocean island of Reunion was also on alert as Berguitta approached.
Reporting by Jean Paul Arouff; Editing by Clement Uwiringiyimana and Paul Tait