Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Port Louis — Mauritius closed its main airport and stock exchange as it braced for the arrival of a cyclone packing winds of up to 120km/h.

Tropical Cyclone Berguitta is situated about 300km northeast of Mauritius and heading toward it at a speed of about 7km/h, the country’s meteorological service said in a statement on its website. The storm is forecast to make landfall overnight, it said.

"Berguitta represents a direct threat to Mauritius," the service said.

The tropical cyclone is the third in January to form in the southwest Indian Ocean. Tropical Cyclone Ava battered the island of Madagascar on January 5, leaving at least 42 people dead and 150,000 others displaced, according to country’s disaster-management office.

The Red Cross activated its disaster response team for Mauritius and La Reunion, a French-administered island 227km southwest of Mauritius that is also threatened by the storm.

"This dangerous cyclone puts at risk hundreds of lives in Mauritius and La Reunion," it said. "Our teams in both countries are prepositioning relief items to support communities who may need food, shelter and first aid services."

Mauritius’s Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport was shuttered from 7am, state-owned Airports of Mauritius said on Wednesday in an e-mailed statement.

The Stock Exchange of Mauritius said on Tuesday it would remain closed on Wednesday if the storm warning were upgraded to class III. SBM Holdings, owner of Mauritius’s second-biggest lender, switched off ATMs from 8pm on Tuesday, citing the weather.

Bloomberg

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