13 Feb 2010

Aid workers on stand-by as Cyclone Rene tracks through South Pacific

2:00 pm on 13 February 2010

The Red Cross says it has aid workers on alert around the Pacific as Cyclone Rene gathers strength between Samoa and Tonga.

The Fiji Meteorological Office is warning the tropical cyclone is likely to be upgraded to a category three storm as it tracks southwards.

A cyclone forecaster says Rene is expected to cause extremely high waves and damage to coastlines as water is pushed up onto land.

Red Cross New Zealand's International Operations Manager, Andrew McKie, says preparations are being made in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

"We have advised Tonga Red Cross and it looks like it maybe in the path but they should start taking early precautions, the earlier they can take these precautions the less the impact can be on the local community. Cyclones are very unpredictable and they may even affect Samoa and Fiji and it looks like Tonga especially the northern islands in Tonga maybe severely affected."

Andrew McKie of the Red Cross.

The Fiji Meteorological Service says it has issued a tropical cyclone alert for Niue and the Tonga group on tropical cyclone Rene because its appears to be getting bigger and stronger.