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TARAWA, Kiribati (April 7, 2002 - Radio Kiribati/PINA Nius Online)---Kiribati is bracing itself for more high tides, which continue to threaten and panic people on its low-lying atolls.

The tides flooded residential areas, pigpens, gardens and roads in heavily populated South Tarawa in February and March.

More are predicted later this month.

Affected residents had to watch helplessly as the high tides forced their way inland.

People say that despite what scientists might argue Kiribati is feeling the impact of climate change and rising sea levels already.

The Lagoon Breeze Motel, owned by academic and former parliamentarian Rooniti Teiwaki, was badly affected. The high tide flooded into the building area, as well as the surrounding compound.

The Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific nursery garden, once fully green and healthy with plants, was left with nothing but brown dead plants and salty soil.

A number of seawalls collapsed, and roads were flooded from both the lagoon and ocean sides.

People moved further inland. But the next high tide - with a predicted height of approximately 2.70 meters (about 8.91 feet) is expected towards the end of this month.

Director of Meteorological Services Tekena Teitiba said: "The highest high tide occurred in February with 2.87 meters (about 9.471 feet)."

He told Radio Kiribati that the highest high tide for March was 2.80 meters (9.24 feet).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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