28 Feb 2005

Cyclone Percy continues to batter the northern Cook Islands' of Pukapuka and Nassau

4:21 pm on 28 February 2005

Cyclone Percy is continuing to batter the northern Cook Islands' of Pukapuka and Nassau, and little is known how people are faring after communications went down.

Chief Inspector Teroi John Tini of the Cook Islands Emergency Operations centre says they've spoken only once with Pukapuka today where the 700 people are sheltering at the island's school.

He says so far, there's been some damage to three houses but they've since lost contact as cyclone Percy, with winds of 170 kilometres an hour, moves either directly over Pukapuka or very close by.

Chief Inspector Tini says a ham radio operator on Rarotonga then picked up a message from a radio operator on nearby Nassau and it's believed roofs have gone from some houses with coconut thatches.

He says little is known other than that but it's hoped that people are safe.

"We believe there's a very strong possibility that they may be sheltering in the church, the church building, which is a solid building and be able to hold the people of 40."

Chief Inspector Teroi John Tini.

The New Zealand Met Service says cyclone Percy is just moving over Nassau with winds of 160 kilometres per hour, gusting to 200.

It is expected to slowly lose intensity over the next 24 hours.