10 Feb 2010

Residents in parts of the Cook Islands moving inland ahead of Cyclone Pat

9:25 am on 10 February 2010

Preparations are being made to evacuate people inland in some parts of the Cook Islands as Cyclone Pat could bring storm force conditions in the next day.

Recent forecasts put the Category 2 cyclone 320 kilometres north of Aitutaki.

It is moving slowly southwest at about six to nine knots, bringing it into the path of Aitutaki within the next 12 to 24 hours.

Met Service Director Arona Ngari says a warning system is in place for the community, and strong winds and high seas are being felt by some islands.

Mr Ngari says some people are moving inland and some tourist operators on Aitutaki are preparing to evacuate their visitors this afternoon.

He says tourism providers on Rarotonga also have contingency plans to evacuate if necessary.

"A concern at this stage is the high seas associated with a tropical cyclone and we are just concerned that if this coincides with the high tide on each respective island this could pose a threat, especially on the northern part of the islands not only restricted to Aitutaki and Rarotonga but all the islands in the Southern Cooks."

Arona Ngari says the cyclone could cause some damage and flooding but the more prepared they are the better.