17 Mar 2003

Repairs underway in New Caledonia after devastation of Cyclone Erica

10:32 am on 17 March 2003

Schools in parts of New Caledonia are unlikely to re-open today because of the devastation caused by Cyclone Erica.

The storm hit the territory's west coast last Friday with gusts of more than 200 kilometres an hour ..the most destructive seen in decades.

Two people died and more than a hundred were injured in the cyclone, seven of them seriously.

Erica caused huge damage along the main island's west coast and the capital, Noumea.

Dozens of rooves were torn off in Bourail, making many families homeless.

Trees were uprooted and power and phone lines were cut, but officials say the water supply system has remained intact.

The French government has released 300 hundred thousand US dollars in emergency assistance.

The minister in charge of overseas territories, Brigitte Girardin, is due in Noumea within the next 24 hours help oversee the rehabilitation work