Weather News

Disaster declared after deadly Samoan cyclone

By NZ correspondent Dominique Schwartz and wires, Friday December 14, 2012 - 18:43 EDT

The Samoan government has declared a state of disaster after Cyclone Evan ravaged the South Pacific nation, destroying buildings and causing flash floods.

Police in Samoa say a number of children are presumed to have drowned after being swept away in a flooded river after the cyclone hit.

Evan made landfall yesterday and caused widespread damage across the country, killing at least two people, cutting power, causing flooding and ripping trees out of the ground.

Locals say it is the worst storm to hit the region in recent years and a state of disaster has been declared.

There are now fears the storm could intensify to a category five cyclone as it tracks across the north of Tonga and then moves onto Fiji.

New Zealand's high commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, says police have told him a number of children went missing near the main river in Samoa's capital Apia.

"This is the biggest one I've been through and I've been through difficult situations in the Pacific (before)," Mr Hurley told Radio New Zealand.

"The unpredictable nature of this one has made it quite different. The forecast winds did not give any indication of how strong the impact was going to be."

Many places in Samoa have only just rebuilt after being devastated by a tsunami in 2009.

"Power is off for the whole country... Tanugamanono power plant is completely destroyed and we might not have power for at least two weeks," the Disaster Management Office (DMO) said in a statement.

It said hospitals and other essential services were using standby generators, with water supplies also out and most roads cut off by fallen trees and power poles as hundreds of people languished in evacuation centres.

In travel advice, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said the cyclone had caused "damage to local services and infrastructure, including communications and electricity services and Faleolo International Airport".

"The Australian High Commission in Apia has closed until further notice due to storm damage," it said.

The United Nations says international aid groups are ready to help if needed, with damage from the cyclone worse than expected.

Cyclone track

Evan continues to move north west away from Apia, but its progress has slowed to just under 10 kilometres per hour.

It was around 70 kilometres off the coast and is forecast to reverse its course later this evening, although it is not known if it will again cross Samoa.

The Fiji Meteorological Service has warned the cyclone could threaten northern parts of Tonga on Saturday and reach Fiji by Sunday.

Authorities in Fiji have gone into emergency preparation as the cyclone threatens to head towards the country.

Fiji's weather bureau says the storm could eventually become a category five cyclone - packing winds at its core of 360 kilometres per hour - and on its current path would hit both of the nation's main islands.



© ABC 2012

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Severe thunderstorms to hit Victoria, NSW and ACT on Tuesday

16:44 EDT

Widespread showers and thunderstorms will affect parts of Vitoria, NSW and the ACT on Tuesday, with severe thunderstorms likely in some areas.

Student found alive almost a week after going missing on Gold Coast

16:10 EDT

A university student has been found alive but suffering from exposure after going missing during heavy rain and flash flooding in bushland in the Gold Coast Hinterland last week.

Defence Force and SES use drones, unmanned boats to resupply flood-hit Wytaliba

14:46 EDT

The tiny village of Wytaliba, sandwiched between the New South Wales Northern Tablelands and North Coast, is no stranger to being cut off.