5 Feb 2010

French Polynesia president intends to declare state of calamity after Oli

2:08 pm on 5 February 2010

There are media reports that French Polynesia's president is planning to declare a state of natural calamity in the wake of Cyclone Oli.

Such a move would be aimed at securing emergency funds from France.

Oceania Flash also reports two people have been seriously injured and 10 others hurt as the storm moves south east of Tahiti.

Oli forced the evacuation of hundreds of tourists as winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour created waves as high as seven metres.

Several thousand residents are reportedly sheltering in community centres, with bridges and dams washed away and an estimated 20 percent of people without power.

However the publisher of the Tahiti Pacifique monthly, Alex Du Prel, says although it's too early to determine Oli's total impact, he believes bureaucrats have exaggerated its severity.

"Let's say a lot of the panic was artificially induced. For example this morning in Tahiti/Moorea we have light winds and everything and they were still until 10am forbidding any car to move and everything, you know? So the danger of the cyclone was not the wind but of getting fined by the police. This is why I say I survived the bureacratic cyclone."

Alex Du Prel.

The cyclone is expected to hit the Austral island of Rurutu this evening.