6 Feb 2010

Tropical cyclone Oli claims one life in French Polynesia

9:37 am on 6 February 2010

In French Polynesia, tropical cyclone Oli has claimed its first fatality as it continues to batter French Polynesia.

The first death was reported on Tubuai, in the Austral islands, south of the main island Tahiti.

Oceania Flash reports that local weather forecasters say estimated speed of winds at the centre of Oli is a constant 185 kilometres per hour with gusts 260 kilometres per hour.

A maximum red cyclone alert has now been lifted for the main island of Tahiti as tropical cyclone Oli brushed past.

But it remained for the Austral Islands and especially Tubuai, populated by just over two thousand.

On Bora Bora, Northwest of Tahiti, there was one reported serious injury: one man who fell from a roof.

All schools were to remain closed until next week as domestic flights were gradually resuming on the less affected parts of French Polynesia.

Officials say at least 3,400 people living close to the shoreline in Tahiti and Moorea were moved from their homes.

A first assessment team was dispatched yesterday to Bora Bora to inspect damage to houses and infrastructures.

French Polynesia's President, Gaston Tong Sang, declared a state of natural calamity yesterday, which would in turn trigger the release of emergency funds from the French government.