24 Jan 2011

Cyclone Wilma poised to leave Samoas this afternoon

10:45 am on 24 January 2011

Tropical Cyclone Wilma is affecting the Samoas, with warnings for the category-1 storm in place for Tonga and Fiji.

The system is passing on the western side of American Samoa's main island Tutuila, packing winds of more than 130 kilometres an hour.

Tutuila has been in the eye of the cyclone which means that the winds will pick up again as the storm continues to hover over the island for the next two to three hours.

The storm is anticipated to leave American Samoa's waters this afternoon.

There has been surface flooding from high tides and the tramway cable from Utulei to Mount Alava is broken.

Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, says some beach villages have had to be evacuated as strong winds blew off roofs.

But she says many people have still been making an effort to attend church.

"It's a Sunday here, a lot of prayers being offered and there are lots of services still going on. This is a very religious country and we've had a lot of people and callers calling in saying yes we are people of faith and we'll put our faith in God that he will protect us."

In the west, in Samoa, people have been aware of the bad weather for several days as Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia reports from Apia.

We've been advised and warned of this, of strong winds, as of mid last week but it continues up until early this week and people are now seriously taking the advice. We're still keeping our fingers crossed hoping that cyclone Wilma is not going to approach us later today.