CYCLONE MARTIN MEDIA RELEASES

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Office of the Prime Minister
Cook Islands

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4,1997, 1230 HOURS

A Report has just been received that a boat which drifted from Manihiki has arrived in Rakahanga with four people on board. They are in the hospital there but are reported to be well. They are:

Willy Katoa Anna Katoa John Solomona Williams Penina Simiona

The Disaster Management Committee mid-morning received a report from the Minister of Disaster Management in Manihiki that a boat has been sighted off the island and there may be people on board. A request has been made that the Orion on standby in New Zealand now be sent to the Cook Islands.

An Air Rarotonga plane is already on its way to Manihiki to search the ocean close to the island.

The names of the persons buried yesterday are:

Ngamatua Okirua Tamata Mama Fonu Tupou Aporo

The search continues today under the direction of Inspector Tini. There are now three boats searching the lagoon. The boats being used survived Cyclone Martin.

Although the delivery of goods has been of great assistance morale remains low on the island. Many people are still in a state of shock and the full impact of personal loss has yet to be felt by many of them.

Goods delivered on yesterday's plane are being distributed between the villages of Tauhunu and Takoa. Sleeping and eating quarters are now being established

The Hercules will again depart Rarotonga airport about now for a second trip to Manihiki. It will include many tons of goods which have been donated by the people of Rarotonga.

While in Manihiki the Hercules will also be undertaking a further search of the open sea around the island to verify the sighting of the vessel and to establish its exact location.

The Disaster Management Committee has asked the MV Koumaru to move into position in order that it may be able to respond to any sightings by the Hercules, Air Rarotonga or the Orion.

Meanwhile the patrol vessel, the Kukupa, is ready to depart for Rakahanga from the wharf in Avaitu as soon as it is loaded. The vessel is expected to take 45 hours to reach Rakahanga.

The only communication with Rakahanga at present is through radio telephone. The Chief Executive Officer has reported from Rakahanga that the damage suffered has been largely around the coast. Buildings damaged include the school and the cargo shed. There appears to be adequate medicine and food needs, although not urgent, will become important over the coming days. Assistance may also be needed with equipment to clear debris the cyclone has caused. Taro swamps have been flooded but crops should be edible if harvested over the next few days. The Kukupa's arrival will therefore be timely.

 

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER, 4, 1997, 1300 HOURS

The search for people missing from the island of the Manihiki in the wake of Cyclone Martin which hit the northern group of the Cook Islands continues today.

A Report has just been received that a boat which drifted from Manihiki has arrived in Rakahanga with four people on board. They are in the hospital there but are reported to be well.

The Disaster Management Committee mid-morning received a report from the Minister of Disaster Management in Manihiki that a boat has been sighted off that island and there may be people on board. A formal request has now been made for the Royal Air Force Orion, on standby, to be brought to the Cook Islands.

In the meantime a local commercial plane has been sent to conduct a search of the ocean near the island.

The RNZAF Hercules is due to depart Rarotonga about now on its second relief flight to the devastated island. In addition the Hercules on reaching Manihiki will do a sweep of the open sea to establish the exact location of the sighted vessel.

The Disaster Management Committee has asked an inter-island vessel, the MV Koumarua, to move into position in order that it may be able to respond to any sightings by the Orion, the Hercules or the local plane.

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