15 Feb 2010

75% of houses on Aitutaki in Cook Islands still without power

10:27 am on 15 February 2010

The mayor of Aitutaki in the Cook Islands says about 75 percent of houses on the island remain without power after last week's devastating cyclone.

Tai Herman says there is a need for more electricians and carpenters to help with repairs after almost all homes sustained some damage in Cyclone Pat.

The New Zealand government has announced it will send an Airforece Hercules with defence force engineers and technicians, and relief supplies to Aitutaki this afternoon.

The Mayor says several airlines are offering cheap flights so skilled people from the Cook Islands and New Zealand can also come to help.

"The problem is actually in the households, extensive damage where the people cannot actually restore power back in the homes because of damage. So we need electricians and people of that skill to actually go through the homes and check them out and rewire them."

Tai Herman says water has been restored to 75 percent of houses, but some homes also have leaky pipes.

He says schools will remain closed tomorrow, and several schools and the hospital have sustained damage.

He says the mobile phone and FM radio service, and some landlines have been restored.