5 Jan 2004

Cyclone Heta continues to threaten Samoa, Niue and Tonga

8:01 am on 5 January 2004

The gale force winds associated with Tropical Cyclone Heta continues to hit a number of South Pacific countries.

Samoa, Tonga and Niue are all on cyclone alert as Heta continues to move southeast.

In Samoa, storm warnings have been issued for the whole country, with the first winds due to hit the country around the middle of the day.

The eye of the cyclone is expected to pass within 80 kilometres of the main island Savaii at around seven o'clock tonight.

Forecasters are urging coastal communties to prepare for waves of up to five metres.

People who live close to the shore have been adivsed to move to higher ground.

Flood advisories have also been issued for those living in low land areas as channels and streams could overflow.

All airports in Samoa have been closed because of the weather forecasts.

The boat channel between Samoa's main islands of Upolu and Savaii have also been closed and sea travel to American Samoa has also been cancelled.