13 Jan 2006

New Caledonia in grip of drought

4:27 pm on 13 January 2006

Weather forecasters in New Caledonia say the territory is faced with unusually dry and hot weather.

They say rainfall in the last three months of 2005 was been about a third of its long-term average and temperatures have also been elevated, with the town of Pouembout recording more than 37 degrees on Christmas Day.

The dry weather led to large forest fires in December.

The first days of this year have seen continued hot weather which in difference to previous droughts is not linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon.