28 Feb 2005

Pukapuka and Nassau in the northern Cook Islands being battered by Cyclone Percy

9:39 am on 28 February 2005

The islands of Pukapuka and Nassau in the northern Cook Islands are being battered by hurricane winds and high seas from Cyclone Percy.

The 700 people on Pukapuka have moved to higher ground and are sheltering at the island's school as Percy, with winds of 185 kilometres and gusts of over 265 kilometres an hour at its centre, lies 95 kilometres to the west.

Chief inspector, Teroi John Tini, at the Emergency Operations centre, says there are no reports of any injuries on Pukapuka but there has been some damage.

"The people have moved further inland onto higher ground as they were experiencing high seas. The sea inside the lagoon has risen but the people have moved to higher ground, and so far there has been damage to three houses which were very close to the beach."

Chief inspector Tini says they are unable to contact anybody on Nassau, which has approximately 200 residents, but expect a report to come through later this morning.

Cyclone Percy is currently moving in an easterly direction with a cyclone warning in force for Suwarrow, an uninhabited island, but it is then expected to curve to the south-east.