6 Jan 2004

Gales caused by Cyclone Heta batter Samoa- unconfirmed reports of one dead

7:32 am on 6 January 2004

Gale force winds have been battering Samoa over night with reports of flooding, uprooted trees and damage to property and crops.

There are unconfirmed reports that one person has been swept out to sea from the coast of Upolu.

As Cyclone Heta passed by, Samoa's largest island Savai'i the islands were hit by winds of up to 45 knots, and gusts up to 65 knots.

Waves up to eight metres high have also been reported.

Strong winds are still being felt in Apia and seas are dangerously high

The Vice Chairman of Samoa's National Disaster Centre, Va'asatia Poloma Komiti, says yesterday a preliminary survey of the main island Upolu showed extensive damage from the gales, heavy rain and huge sea swells.

Mr Komiti says there are concerns about the extent of damage on Savai'i which was expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

Phone lines have been cut from Savai'i since last night.