10 Feb 2010

Cyclone Pat approaches Aitutaki and other southern Cook Islands

10:34 pm on 10 February 2010

Destructive winds and heavy rain are forecast for parts of the southern Cook Islands as tropical Cyclone Pat nears Aitutaki.

A hurricane warning is in force for Aitutaki and nearby smaller islands.

A gale warning remains in force for Rarotonga, Palmerston and Mauke, with a tropical cyclone alert in force for the rest of the southern Cook Islands.

Around 1AM Wednesday (Cook Islands time) Cyclone Pat was about 45 kilometres northeast of Aitutaki and 300 kilometres north of Rarotonga.

It is moving southwest at a speed of 9 knots and is expected to accelerate further in this direction.

At the centre of this category three cyclone, occasional gusts of up to 180 kilometres an hour are expected.

The Cook Islands Police Emergency Centre's Sergeant Vaine Rere says the Aitutaki community is well-prepared.

"Most of the people living in low-lying areas have been moved to higher grounds. The guests at the hotels, especially the Aitutaki resprt, have been moved inland. So pretty much the island has already conducted its disaster management programme of looking after the people."

Vaine Rere