1 Feb 2010

Northern Cook Islanders seek shelter inland as cyclone threatens

8:10 pm on 1 February 2010

The northern Cook Islands are being hit by strong winds and rain with predictions that a tropical depression may become a cyclone.

The storm is affecting Pukapuka, Nassau, Manihiki and Rakahanga, as well as the uninhabited bird sanctuary, Suwarrow.

The depression is forecast to intensify overnight with the possibility of momentary gusts of up to 60 knots hitting the islands.

The Cook Islands Police Commissioner, Ma'ara Tetava, says on Pukapuka and Nassau, the islands closest to the storm, the coastal roads have been breached by the storm surges.

"The people have moved inland. They have got their own cyclone response plan which I understand they have activated. So people have moved away from the coastal area and everyone is safe and accounted for. We have not had any reports of damages to property on the island of Pukapuka, as well as on the island of Nassau."

Cook Islands Police Commissioner Ma'ara Tetava says coastal flooding and sea surges are expected and they will be closely monitoring the impact of tonight's high tide.