On Tuesday, the streets of Noumea bore the scars of clashes between the police and rioters with traffic blocked by burnt-out cars and smoking piles of tyres.

“The police station nearby was on fire and a car was too, in front of my house, there was non-stop shouting and explosions, I felt like I was in a war,” said Sylvie, whose family has lived in New Caledonia for several generations.

Burnt-out cars are seen outside a showroom in Noumea on Tuesday. Hundreds of cars were set alight overnight, as were more than 30 businesses, shops and factories. Photo: AFP

“We are alone. Who is going to protect us?” she said, asking to be identified only by her first name.

A total of 36 people were arrested and 30 police officers were injured, according to authorities, who also announced a nighttime curfew on Tuesday and a ban on public gatherings. No deaths have been reported.

“I can’t talk,” said Joelle Vincent, who owns a supermarket business. “I am disappointed and disgusted.”

The fire brigade recorded nearly 1,500 calls and counted around 200 fires in the overnight unrest.

At least two car dealerships and a bottling factory in the capital Noumea were set on fire in arson attacks, journalists saw.

French armed officers stand guard in Noumea on Tuesday. A total of 36 people were arrested and 30 police officers were injured in the riots, according to authorities. Photo: AFP

While the situation appeared more calm in parts of Noumea on Tuesday, there were still clashes in the suburbs, where a supermarket was looted after being ram-raided during the night.

Many other businesses also bore the marks of attempted break-ins and few shops were open. Long queues were forming in front of the few that are still open.

Hundreds of cars were set on fire, as were more than 30 businesses, shops and factories, according to a group of employers’ representatives.

The group issued an appeal for calm and said nearly 1,000 jobs on the island had been put at risk by the unrest.

The island’s public transport network has also been cut off, with the territory’s flag carrier Aircalin announcing that it was cancelling all its flights for Tuesday.

“I feel sad,” said Jean-Franck Jallet, who owns a butcher shop that firefighters managed to rescue from the flames. “I thought it was possible for us [islanders] to live side by side, but it hasn’t worked. There are too many lies.”