7 Feb 2005

Cyclone Meena moves away from the Cooks and loses intensity

7:18 pm on 7 February 2005

Cyclone Meena, which has battered Cook Islands over the past 24 hours has moved off to the southeast east of the country.

The Fiji Met Service says the storm, which at its centre was gusting to 250 kilometres an hour at stages, began to weaken some hours ago and will continue to do so as it moves over cooler seas.

Forecaster lan Shepherd says they do not expect it to impact on French Polynesia.

Earlier Meena caused some damage on Aitutaki, on the main island Rarotonga, and Mangaia in the south.

Our correspondent on Rarotonga, Jason Brown, says there was debris strewn about and damage to the sea wall on the northern coast of the island.

But he says the island very quickly began the clean up.

"All the roads are clear of debris within hours of the cyclone warning being degraded to a gale force warning as the cyclone moved south. So the clean-up's been very quick. There's just a small number of businesses - restaurants and small shops within the main town itself that have been pretty much gutted by early morning waves."