7 Feb 2005

Cyclone Meena battering southern island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands

2:47 pm on 7 February 2005

Cyclone Meena is currently battering the southern island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands although on its current path, it is moving slowly away from it.

The Fiji Met Service's duty forecaster says the cyclone is about 100 kilometres from Mangaia with winds of 185 kilometres an hour, gusting to 260.

The secretary of the Mangaia island administration, Tuaine Tuara, says most of the 600 plus population is remaining indoors and 130 people have been moved to centres away from low lying coastal areas.

She says the winds are very fierce now.

"Everybody's been asked to stay in the evacuation centres and stay in their houses because it's getting to the stage it's too dangerous for anybody to be wandering around on the road. All the people from the bottom villages have been moved up to the makatea, up to the higher areas - all the evacuation centres are up on the higher level. The wind is very, very fierce at the moment."

Mrs Tuara says there have been reports called in of trees falling over on the main road and trees being down in outer villages.

She says one large old building has collapsed but others appear to be holding up at this point.