4 Mar 2005

Forecasters warn of gales and strong winds for the southern Cook Islands

4:17 pm on 4 March 2005

Forecasters are continuing to warn of gales and strong winds for the southern Cook Islands, as Cyclone Percy passes south west of Rarotonga.

The cyclone is weakening and moving south east, with winds around the eye reaching up to a hundred and 85 kilometres an hour.

Forecasters warn winds in Rarotonga and Mangaia may increase to damaging gale force this afternoon, with rough seas and heavy swells which may cause flooding in coastal areas.

The cyclone wrought extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure in all three atolls of Tokelau, as well as Pukupuka and Nassau in the northern Cooks.

Meanwhile Chief Inspector Teroi John Tini from the Emergency Operations Centre says aid being shipped to the northern Cooks is still a day-and-a-half away.

"The boat left Penryhn yesterday and arrived in Manihiki and she is still in Manihiki collecting more supplies bound for Pukapuka. Hopefully weather permitting she should be there by morning, Saturday."

Chief Inspector Tini says he believes the northern islanders have enough food to last until the weekend.