16 Feb 2005

Cyclone Nancy blasts several islands in the southern Cook Islands - Samoa waits for Olaf

5:56 am on 16 February 2005

Cyclone Nancy has caused significant damage to several islands in the southern Cook Islands, and a number of people have been moved to evacuation shelters.

Very destructive winds, gusting up to 250 kilometres an hour are still expected for Manuae, Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and the nearby smaller islands, but the winds are forecast to gradually decrease.

Police officer John Hosking at the national emergency office in Rarotonga, says the storm system, which is moving south southwest, is now lying south of Aitutaki and heading for Rarotonga.

"ah what's she done, is she has brought a lot of coastal damage to the islands of Aitutaki, Mitiaro, Atiu, and Mauke. When we say coastal damage, that is, it has affected a lot of the low lying areas and a lot of people who were living around the coastal areas have been moved to evacuation centres around their respective islands."

The Hurricane Centre on the Cook Island of Aitutaki will assess the full damage of the cyclone at first light in about half an hour.

A Centre spokesman, 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.

Sabati Solomona.

Meanwhile Cyclone Olaf is yet to have any impact on Samoa.

The cyclone is gusting up to 213 kilometres an hour at the moment.

Mulipola Ausetalia, the director of the Samoa Met Office, says the storm system remains on track to hit the country but it has slowed down.

it is probably because of the high pressure ridge to the southeast, but we should be expecting gale force winds in the next six to 12 hours.