7 Jan 2004

Widespread devastation in Niue following cyclone

6:44 pm on 7 January 2004

What has been described as the worst cyclone to hit Niue in living memory has flattened the capital Alofi, killing at least one person and injuring several.

A national disaster has been declared after tropical cyclone Heta slammed into the atoll of about 2-thousand people.

Reports of the wind speed vary from 200 to 300 kilometres an hour.

New Zealand's High Commissioner in Niue, Sandra Lee-Vercoe, says there is widespread destruction around the capital and the island's only hospital has been damaged.

New Zealand is preparing to send emergency aid, with an Air Force relief flight scheduled to depart from Whenuapai Airbase for Niue in the early hours of the morning.