18 Mar 2003

French Minister arrives in New Caledonia to survey cyclone damage

3:50 pm on 18 March 2003

The French minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, arrived in Noumea this morning on a 24 hour visit to assess the destruction caused by Cyclone Erica.

The storm, which struck early last Friday, with the strongest winds to hit the Territory in decades, claimed two lives, injured dozens, and caused damage estimated at millions of dollars.

Ms Girardin was briefed on arrival by the Territory's political and military leaders.

She announced that Paris would provide just over two hundred thousand US dollars for disaster relief, which comes on top of the three hundred thousand made available immediately after the storm.

Earlier France had said it was sending 60 specialists to New Caledonia to help.

This comes after the government of the southern province released more than 5 million US dollars to employ 1-thousand people to help with the rehabilitation process.