26 Feb 2010

Tropical depression threatens Cook Islands

1:37 pm on 26 February 2010

Aitutaki and Palmerston in the Cook Islands have been told to prepare for a possible tropical cyclone bringing winds of up to 50 knots.

A tropical depression, which has been passing through the northern Cooks over the past four days, is now strengthening and expected to become a tropical cyclone later today.

Forecasters are predicting winds gusting up to 50 knots on Palmerston this afternoon and evening, with heavy rain and rough to very rough seas.

They say Aitutaki, which was battered by Cyclone Pat two weeks ago, can expect similar weather from tomorrow morning.

The rest of the southern Cooks have been warned to expect very strong winds, possible heavy rain and rough seas.

The mayor of Aitutaki, Tai Herman, says they have solved the problem posed by loose roofing iron by carting it all to the south end of the island.

He says a major concern is the people still living in tents.

Mr Herman says they want to make sure that any space in a house that remains intact is utilised with people being encouraged to open their homes to those who lost theirs in the previous storm.