16 Feb 2005

First assessments of damage from Cyclone Nancy

7:35 am on 16 February 2005

Several houses have lost their roofs and trees are down across roads in the southern Cook Islands as Cyclone Nancy, with gusts of up to 250 kilometres an hour, continues to head towards Rarotonga.

Sergeant Teinaki Howard of the National Emergency Operations centre says, however, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths as people moved to evacuation centres ahead of the cyclone.

He says power is down and phone lines have been cut to Atiu, and Mitiaro was also badly hit.

"They've experienced destructive winds, one or two houses have lost their roof; basically some coconut trees have fallen down. The same as Atiu - they've also experienced destructive winds, coconut trees have fallen down on the roads, and heavy rain experienced as well."

The islands of Manuae and Mauke were also hit by very destructive winds and the Hurricane Centre on Aitutaki is now beginning an assessment of the full damage of the cyclone.

The island's secretary, Sabati Solomona, says the cyclone was at its worst between one and three a.m.

Cyclone Nancy came to Aitutaki on the eastern side of the island. Trees have fallen, a lot of trees have been fallen as government workers here, we have sent them to clear the road anytime a tree is down, just to clear the road.

The New Zealand Met Service is predicting that Cyclone Nancy will pass between Rarotonga and Mangaia in the middle of the day.

And, it says Cyclone Olaf, which is even stronger, is still on track to pass over Apia in Samoa early this afternoon.

It is currently 200 kilometres north-west of Savaii with winds of 205 kilometres an hour at its centre, travelling at 18 kilometres an hour but this is predicted to speed up.

The Met Service says Cyclone Olaf, on its present course, is now predicted to move slightly south of American Samoa.