11 killed in flash floods in Mauritius capital

AP News
Posted: Apr 01, 2013 8:05 AM

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius (AP) — Police on Monday searched for survivors of flash floods that killed at least 11 people in the capital of the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

Officials blamed climate change for the disaster that has left hundreds homeless in Port Louis.

Most victims drowned in rivers of water that rose swiftly Saturday in a pedestrian underpass leading to the waterfront and an underground car park, officials said.

Torrential downpours slammed Port Louis with some 152 mm (6 inches) of rain falling in less than two hours on Saturday, the meteorological office reported. It warned there could be more storms.

Major roads were blocked as surging floodwaters dragged away cars, forcing motorists to abandon them. National TV showed people clinging to each other as they waded through hip-high water in a central street.

Rivers of mud and debris covered the Canal Dayot suburb, where hundreds of families have been left homeless. Volunteers and charity workers helped shovel mud and handed out food and water to homeless survivors.

Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam declared Monday a day of mourning. On national radio Sunday he blamed climate change for the floods.

He said there also was heavy property damage.

L'Express de Maurice newspaper asked why the Disaster Management Committee had reacted slowly. It said the committee was warned by the meteorological office on Saturday morning that torrential rains were imminent but did not meet until Saturday afternoon.