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FRench Polynesia

Surfers banned from waves as storms lash French Polynesia

French Polynesia
French Polynesia L Claudel/Wikimedia Commons

French Polynesia was declared to be in a "state of natural catastrophe" on Monday as torrential rain caused rockslides and the flooding of hundreds of homes. Some towns declared swimming bans to deter surfers wishing to ride the waves at potential danger to their lives.

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As surfers picked up their boards and headed for impressive but dangerous waves, several mayors on Tahiti and Mo'orea, the most populated islands, banned anyone from entering the sea.

Less ambitious sports enthusiasts took to canoes or paddleboards to sail through the flooded streets.

Hundreds of homes have been flooded, bridges have been destroyed and roads closed by the storm, which could last another two days and nights.

With one person already injured in a rockslide, weather forecasters warned there could be more and that there was a danger of more flooding.

Power cuts, airport closed

Fa'a'ā International Airport was closed for at least 24 hours on Sunday and power was cut off to 6,000 homes, although electricity company EDT said that it had reestablished the supply to all but 455 by the evening.

Thirty-two people, including one with reduced mobility, were evacuated by zipline in the north of Tahiti.

The west coast of Tahiti and the towns of Papeete and Pirae, on the north of the island, have been worst hit.

French Overseas Territories Minister Ericka Bareigts expressed her "solidarity" with the islands' inhabitants in a statement Sunday, advising them to comply with official safety instructions.

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