7 Feb 2005

Cyclone Meena expected to pass close to Mangaia within two hours

10:22 am on 7 February 2005

Cyclone Meena is expected to pass close to the southern island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands within the next couple of hours.

The Fiji Met Service's duty forecaster, Angeline Prasad, says a hurricane warning remains in place for Mangaia with the cyclone predicted to maintain its south-easterly path and pass 80 kilometres to the west of the island.

Constable Aerenga Matapo, of the emergency centre on Mangaia, says 130 of the 600 plus population has been moved to three hurricane centres on higher ground.

He says the winds are picking up and the seas are very rough but preparations have been continuing and people tied down their houses before being evacuated.

"They've been put in those hurricane centres that we've prepared. Food has been prepared by the families. All those families who have been moved to the hurricane centres - they have been asked to prepare some food, water and also some clothes to take with them."

Forecaster Angeline Prasad says Cyclone Meena winds remain at 150 knots although over the next 12 to 18 hours, they are expected to drop to 90 knots.