VAVA‘U DISASTER INSPECTION UNDER WAY, NIUE ESCAPED CYCLONE DAMAGE

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VAVA‘U DISASTER INSPECTION UNDER WAY, NIUE ESCAPED CYCLONE DAMAGE

ALOFI, Niue (January 2, 2002 – Niue Economic Review)---A New Zealand air force Orion aircraft with disaster relief specialists on board is assessing damage caused by cyclone Waka in Tonga’s northern islands.

New Zealand Government Duty Minister Trevor Mallard said an assessment of the battered islands was necessary before the Government could take any further action.

Cyclone Waka formed on Sunday over the French territory of Wallis and Futuna before heading south between Tonga and Niue.

Gusting up to 250 kmh (150 mph) in its center, the cyclone hit the northern Tongan islands on Monday, cutting communications for several hours.

Reports of damage included uprooted trees, flattened buildings and crops and sunken boats from wind gusts of 135 knots and an average of 90 knots.

Niue escaped major damage as the cyclone sideswiped the raised coral atoll for several hours yesterday, passing well to the southeast.

Today on Niue the seas have flattened and the weather is fine with a temperature of 31C.

The cyclone has left the area and now is in the open ocean, MetService lead forecaster Liz McLaughlin said.

It was heading in a southeast direction at about 25 knots and would not affect New Zealand, she said.

Ms. McLaughlin said it was also weakening and would soon lose its tropical cyclone characteristics, developing instead into a deep low.

For additional reports from the Niue Economic Review, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Niue Economic Review.

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