14 Dec 2012

Samoa warned to prepare for cyclone Evan's return

8:52 am on 14 December 2012

The head of disaster managament in Samoa says people need to be prepared for Tropical Cyclone Evan hit again later this morning.

Early this morning, Evan was moving west northwest and was about 30 kilometres northeast of Apia.

It is turning southwest and intensifying.

Cyclone Evan has already caused widespread damage, after making landfall in the capital, Apia, yesterday.

Three deaths have been reported by overseas media, but there has been no official confirmation.

The CEO of the ministry of natural resources and environnment Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua says there has been serious flooding.

"Damage to buildings, roofs of buildings have been blown off. The buildings that have suffered most are the ones near the streams that have been affected by flash floods by one of the main streams in the urban area. Some vehicles and also property of individual families have been damaged."

A reporter for Radio Polynesia, Amesene Tanielu, says many families in the Apia area have lost their homes.

She says the main river which runs through Apia overflowed taking out homes on the banks of the river.

It was more like a lake and it was flowing very strongly that the strength of it some families had their properties taken out and the police were using ropes to pull and hold people. So far no confirmation of any casualities there were two missing people yesterday but I understand that they have found them.

Amesene Tanielu says the families who were evacuated yesterday either spent the night at the local police station or at the main hospital.

She says school buildings were opened yesterday are now being used as temporary shelters in the capital.

Amesene Tanielu says power is still erratic at the moment around the capital.

The National Weather Service in Pago Pago has cancelled the cyclone warning for American Samoa as Evan moves away from the territory.

Early this morning, the storm was 136 kilometres west of Pago Pago and moving away from the territory, but continues to usher severe and hazardous weather conditions.

A Gale Warning is now in effect for American Samoa; a high surf warning remains in effect as well for all coastal waters; and a flash flood watch is in effect.

And a forecaster is warning that Tropical Cyclone Evan may worsen and reach hurricane strength as it passes near the northern islands of Tonga on Saturday morning.

The Director of the Fiji Meteorological Service, Alipate Waqaicelua says the strength of the winds predicted to hit northern Tonga depends on the track of the system as it turns around and heads west but speeds of up to 130 kilometres per hour are possible.

We anticipate a recurvature towards the west within the next twenty four hours and when that does happen it's going to be sailing to or very close to the northern islands of Tonga on its way to Fiji where its expected to be impacting the whole of Fiji.

He says Fiji will be issued a weather warning 48 hours prior to being hit by the system.