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Storm 'devastates' Pacific island

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  • discerntruth <richardjbrain@hotmail.com>
    Winds between 300-350KM Per Hour (190-220MPH) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/2616223.stm A powerful cyclone has destroyed much of a Pacific
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2003
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      Winds between 300-350KM Per Hour (190-220MPH)

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/2616223.stm

      A powerful cyclone has destroyed much of a Pacific island, according
      to a photographer who made the first flight over the disaster zone.
      Geoff Mackley, a New Zealand television cameraman, said he had seen
      only about 20 people on Tikopia. The fate of its estimated 2,000
      residents is unclear.

      Almost every building has been damaged... the sea has come through
      some villages, burying them



      Geoff Mackley
      after flying over islands

      There has been no other contact with people on Tikopia and nearby
      Anuta since they were hit by Cyclone Zoe on Saturday.

      Australia is planning to send an air force plane to investigate what
      has happened on the islands.

      The government of the Solomon Islands, to which the islands belong,
      delayed dispatching relief to the affected areas because it did not
      have the money to buy fuel for its patrol boats.

      Fearsome winds

      Mr Mackley chartered a plane to get the first look at the damage left
      by Cyclone Zoe.

      "The island is a scene of total devastation," he wrote on his
      website.

      I will not speculate on the likely casualties or fatalities, if [the
      number] is not large it will be a miracle



      Geoff Mackley

      "Every tree on the island has been blown over or shredded, the island
      is completely denuded of vegetation.

      "Almost every building has been damaged, a few remain intact, while
      others have been shredded, and the sea has come through some
      villages, burying them."

      Mackley, who says he has spent 20 years covering natural disasters,
      estimated Tikopia had been hit by winds of between 300 and 350
      kilometres per hour (190-220 mph) when the storm made its direct hit.

      "I will not speculate on the likely casualties or fatalities," he
      wrote.

      "If [the number] is not large, it will be a miracle."

      Australian aid

      The Australian aircraft, scheduled to fly over the area on Wednesday,
      will not be able to land as neither island has an airfield, but it
      should be able to establish the extent of the damage.

      The director of the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management
      Office, Loti Yates, said Tikopia had probably been "flattened" by the
      storm.


      Meteorologists say the storm was strong enough to flatten buildings
      Bob Davis, Australia's High Commissioner in the Solomon Islands'
      capital, Honiara, said the islands' people had been warned of the
      storm's approach and had experience of sheltering in the cyclone-
      prone area.

      Australia has also donated 200,000 Solomon dollars (US$27,438) after
      the Solomon Islands Government said it could not afford to send a
      patrol boat to the storm-hit area.

      A four-year ethnic war has left the former British protectorate
      virtually bankrupt.

      It will take the patrol boat three days to sail to the outlying
      islands.

      Correspondents say that requesting help from Canberra will have been
      embarrassing for the Solomons.

      Last week, the Solomon Islands Government was strongly criticised by
      the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, for misuse of
      public funds.

      Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza had used Australian aid provided for
      civil servants' salaries to pay money demanded by police who had
      fired shots at his house.
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