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By Josephine Nickel Leaupepe

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 1) – Relief efforts are underway in Samoa for cyclone-damaged Tokelau as officials met in Apia to assess the islands’ immediate needs.

Samoa Shipping Corporation's Lady Naomi is due back from Tokelau today, carrying 70 passengers it took there for a General Fono meeting at Nukunonu. The New Zealand Administrator to Tokelau Neil Walter and the Tokelau Affairs Manager Falani Aukuso are expected to be aboard.

They will discuss what supplies need to be shipped to Tokelau to help the relief effort after Cyclone Percy passed just south of the three low-lying atolls over the weekend. Big seas swept ashore.

Nearly 7,000 Tokelauans now live in New Zealand but there are about 1,400 people still on the atolls. The three Tokelau atolls - Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu - are about 300 miles north of Apia and have no airport.

Walter has said a metre of seawater swirled over the land on Nukunonu. There was serious damage to roads, power systems and gardens were ruined. Boats were scattered around the land, as was debris.

Acting Tokelau Affairs manager A'ana Si'u Liuyuen said only medical supplies have been confirmed so far. They are due to arrive in Samoa from New Zealand for shipping to Tokelau. He said other supplies needed - and which will probably be bought locally in Samoa – include building supplies, food, and backup generators.

A'ana said they've contacted the Samoa Shipping Corporation about chartering a boat to ship the supplies to Tokelau. He said the corporation told them that the Lady Naomi will need immediate repair work on its radar. This was damaged as Lady Naomi rode out the seas and winds of Cyclone Percy.

"It's a pick between the Fotu Samoa and the Samoa Express, but all this will be confirmed after the discussions tomorrow," he said.

A'ana said he understands that there may also be help from the Red Cross Society in Samoa, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as the Samoan Government.

Tokelau needed food, tarpaulins and medical supplies, New Zealand Aid Minister Marian Hobbs said in Wellington.

The New Zealand Government has approved up to NZ$500,000 (about 977,000 tala) for immediate relief supplies.

Ms Hobbs said damage was still being assessed but the island of Nukunonu was under water at one stage.

On Fakaofo, a man was seriously injured when cut by flying debris, two people were rescued after being washed out to sea and seven houses were washed way.

March 4, 2005

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