17 Dec 2012

Much of Samoa capital gets power back after Cyclone Evan

2:20 pm on 17 December 2012

Power has been restored to a part of the central business district of the Samoan capital, Apia, although the majority of Upolu is still without electricity.

The Samoa Disaster Management Office says about 4,500 people remain displaced as the clean-up following the destruction caused by Cyclone Evan continues.

It says it has been told the aim is to have power back for all of Upolu by the end of the week.

The CEO of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua, says the majority of Savaii has power but work is still needed for most of Upolu.

"The eastern side of the urban area was one of the areas that was severely hit, so it's only along the main Beach Road that has power at the moment, mainly because we have all the main office administration buildings, financial institutions, food suppliers and supermarkets out in the CBD so that's the priority at the moment."

Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua says the main hospital has power and the hospitals in rural areas have electricity thanks to generators.

A government and disaster management convoy in Samoa has been travelling across Upolu today to assess the widespread destruction left after Cyclone Evan.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, has ordered all cabinet ministers to travel across Upolu to see the damage.

The Chief Executive of the Office of the Prime Minister, Vaosa Epa, says there is mass destruction, with houses swept away by the force of the rivers and cars piled up against trees.

Miss Epa was speaking just as the convoy was nearing the Cross Island Road to the village of Siumu and described the scene there.

The road there is very very much damaged, there's a couple of places where there's big gaps where the river has crossed over, the cars are still off. It's barely accessible for now and it's only with Hiluxes and four wheel drives it's not good for the smaller ones.

Vaosa Epa says while most of the roads around Apia are not too badly damaged, one of the main bridges, Vaisigano Bridge, is completely inaccessible.

The Prime Minister is to decide this afternoon as to whether a state of emergency will be declared.

Public servants have been given Monday and Tuesday off work to help with the clean up.