7 Feb 2005

Cyclone Meena passes Mangaia on way out of Cooks waters

4:31 pm on 7 February 2005

Cyclone Meena has come within 80 kilometres of the southern island of Mangaia in the Cook Islands this afternoon, bringing storm force winds, that have toppled trees but caused little other damage.

The cyclone had earlier caused damage on Aitutaki and Rarotonga.

The Fiji Met Service's duty forecaster, Ian Shepherd says at its centre the cyclone has been gusting up to 250 kilometres an hour.

He says it is still affecting Mangaia but is on its way past and moving away to the southeast.

"We are expecting it to accelerate to the southeast, so hopefully within a few hours we will be in a position to start cancelling the warnings for that area."

The secretary of the Mangaia island administration, Tuaine Tuara, says most of the 600 plus population has remained indoors, while 130 people were moved to evacuation centres away from low lying coastal areas.

A short time ago she said it was still not possible to leave the centres to make a full evaluation of the impact the storm has had.

But we hear people reporting that there is just one building down - an old shed is the one that has collapsed - a few trees have fallen down but I can't say at this stage how many trees. I think in the main town there are quite a few but I suspect that there will be some more in between the villages.