28 Feb 2005

Cyclone Percy almost directly over Pukapuka in northern Cook Islands

2:26 pm on 28 February 2005

The islands of Pukapuka and Nassau in the northern Cook Islands are continuing to be hammered by cyclone Percy which is almost directly over Pukapuka.

The New Zealand Met Office says Percy is about 10 to 20 kilometres off Pukapuka with winds of 170 kilometres plus per hour.

Chief Inspector, Teroi John Tini, of the Cook Islands Emergency Operations Centre, says they've lost contact with Pukapuka but have finally heard from the nearby Nassau.

He says a ham radio operator on Rarotonga picked up a message from a radio operator on Nassau and it's believed people are safe although there's been some damage.

"So far, there's been indications of some houses, with coconut thatches - the roofings been blown off, and no casualties or no injuries to the people there."

Chief Inspector Tini says it's thought that residents on Nassau, who are now believed to number about 40, will be sheltering in the church which is solidly constructed.

The New Zealand Met office says cyclone Percy could directly hit Nassau within the next hour.