8 Mar 2005

Team flies into Pukapuka in the northern Cook Islands for first time since cyclone

5:14 pm on 8 March 2005

A team has flown to Pukapuka in the northern Cook Islands to assess the damage caused by Cyclone Percy battering both it and nearby Nassau.

It's the first time a direct flight has been made in more than a week to Pukapuka, where only ten of the houses were left intact and much of the infrastructure, including the airstrip, was damaged.

The finance minister and deputy prime minister, Sir Geoff Henry, says similar destruction was experienced on Nassau but it will be some time before it's known what the costs are.

"A plane left for Pukapuka carrying a number of people with technical skills to do precisely what we've been wanting to have done for some time - that is, to assess the damage and come out with some indication of what the recovery costs would be."

Sir Geoff says the costs of the damage experienced by the southern Cook Islands from earlier cyclones is in excess of seven million U.S. dollars.