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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (Oceania Flash, Jan. 10) – Tropical cyclone Kerry, which formed last week West of the Fiji islands and weakened over Vanuatu has caused major disturbances in the French territory of New Caledonia, with several roads and bridges of the main island closed due to flooding.

Local media report heavy rains associated with the tropical cyclone have caused many roads to become impassible.

Several bridges, including on the West coast of the main island, in Bourail, have also been flooded, RFO's Télé-Nouvelle-Calédonie reports.

Kerry on Monday was located 600 kilometers West of New Caledonia's main island (the Grande Terre) and did not seem to move at all, with a displacement speed of one knot, according to the Hawaii-based US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Centre.

But wind speed at Kerry's center has increased significantly in the past 24 hours; the cyclone now bears sustained winds of 90 knots (103 miles per hour) with gusts of up to 110 knots (126 mph).

Its apparent direction has also changed from the initial southwesterly direction; Kerry now seems to take a south-south or south-easterly direction, which would still pose a risk to New Caledonia..

January 11, 2005

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