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Samoa expected to be spared repeat cyclone

08:00 Sat Dec 15 2012
Tiavi area (facebook GoTheManu)
Tiavi area (facebook GoTheManu)

The worst of the cyclone that battered Samoa, killing at least three people, appears to be over and is not expected to hit the devastated capital Apia again.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully told reporters in Wellington on Friday that earlier forecasts that Tropical Cyclone Evan was poised to reverse direction and strike a second time had been rescinded.

The cyclone brought widespread flooding, destroyed houses and crops, and blocked roads with trees and toppled power poles.

"The good news at the moment is that the best guess is we're not going to see the cyclone return to Samoa," he said.

"I spoke to the New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley a few minutes ago, and that's the reading they have on the ground there."

A state of disaster in the country of nearly 200,000 people was declared after Evan swept in from the Pacific and hit Apia on the main island Upolu.

At least two children were among the three who were reportedly drowned when the Vaisigano River, which runs through the centre of Apia, burst its banks.

Mr Hurley told Radio New Zealand that police said a number of people were missing and the death toll could rise.

Bridges were damaged, cars washed away and 400 people were evacuated from their homes on the river banks.

Scores of tourists were evacuated from coastal resorts to higher ground.

Forecasts said the cyclone was heading for the northern islands of Tonga and Fiji after leaving Samoa.

Mr McCully said New Zealand was ready to help but Samoan authorities are coping "extremely well".

Almost 140 Kiwis in Samoa have reported in with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, but Mr McCully said there were no concerns yet for their safety.

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