11 Feb 2010

Cook Islands Government announces State of Disaster for Aitutaki

1:14 pm on 11 February 2010

The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Jim Marurai, has declared a State of Disaster in response to the destruction caused by Cyclone Pat.

Pat, a category three storm, passed closed to Aitutaki overnight causing considerable damage to housing.

It also took out power and affected communications on the island, prompting the Government to act.

The Prime Minister's executive advisor, Trevor Pitt, says the announcement has just been made.

"The Prime Minister has issued two declarations within the last couple of hours which have been broadcast on local national radio and television. The first was to declare a State of Disaster for Aitutaki and the second was to declare a State of Emergency for Rarotonga."

The cyclone is heading in a south southwesterly direction which will place its centre about 200 kilometres to the west of Rarotonga by mid-afternoon.

The winds, which have reached nearly 180 kilometres an hours, are forecast to weaken but the regional weather centre in Fiji is warning Cook Islanders to avoid going to sea for the next few days due to huge swells caused by the cyclone.

The New Zealand aid agency, NZAID, says this country is on standby to help the Cook Islands, if required.