18 Feb 2004

Tuvalu bracing for king tides

4:16 pm on 18 February 2004

It's annual king tide season in Tuvalu, and tomorrow, residents are braced for tides which will reach three metres higher than normal.

The director for the environment, Mataio Tekinene, says the sea will probably flood the land surrounding 50 homes on the particularly low-lying southern part of the main atoll, Funafuti.

Mr Tekinene, who says he is beginning to see the sea level rise already, says it's rare for the water to actually wash through homes and residents have become very relaxed about the king tides.

"It seems though they don't worry what's going to happen. They apply the same situation they've been experiencing from the past years where they don't have to worry. They just stay in their homes during these king tides. They just enjoy the flooding outside the homes, not bothering to prepare or gather their belongings to be safe."

Mr Tekinene says residents should make some attempt to move their belongings to other houses in higher ground.