8 Feb 2010

Cyclone Oli estimated to have caused US$11m worth of damage

6:04 am on 8 February 2010

French Polynesia's president, Gaston Tong Sang, says a first assessment after last week's Cyclone Oli shows it damaged about 200 houses on the island of Tubuai causing damage in excess of 11 million US dollars.

The cyclone, which brought wind gusts of 260 kilometres an hour and waves up to eight metres high, left one person dead.

Mr Tong Sang says much of the infrastructure has been destroyed and road repairs on Tubuai alone are likely to cost nearly six million US dollars.

The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, who was on an official visit to Tahiti and its islands when the cyclone struck, extended her stay by two days to inspect Tubuai and Rurutu island.

The minister has signalled more assistance for the territory, saying the withdrawal of French forces after the end of the nuclear weapons testing programme may have been too substantial.