7 Jan 2004

Cooks officials admit they have not gathered details of small boats as called for following Cyclone

7:41 am on 7 January 2004

Six years after 20 people drowned in the Cook Islands during Cyclone Martin, the authorities admit they still have no idea how many boats are in the vulnerable outer islands.

After Cylone Martin, the prime minister's office turned down an offer from New Zealand to search for boats that may have come to grief during the storm, saying wooden boats would not show up on radar.

Four days after the cyclone, four survivors turned up in an aluminium boat with a makeshift sail in nearby Rakahanga.

With Cyclone Heta causing havoc in the area, Chief Inspector Tearoa Tini admits a list of small boats and their owners would definitely assist recovery efforts.

He says police will look at the concept of registering small boats and has urged boat owners to make sure they have proper safety equipment.