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NZ ready to respond to Cyclone Meena

Hon Phil Goff NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

7 February 2005

NZ ready to respond to Cyclone Meena

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand is ready to respond to any request for assistance from the Cook Islands after Cyclone Meena battered the islands this morning.

“A Hercules C130 is currently on stand-by and it could be up in the Cooks, with relief supplies, as early as tomorrow,” Mr Goff said.

“A category five cyclone causing widespread damage had been predicted. However early reports are that there has been no injury or loss of life, and that damage is not extensive in either the northern islands or on Rarotonga. The cyclone is due to pass near Mangaia, the only other inhabited island, in the early afternoon (NZT).

"People in the Cook Islands appear to have prepared well for the cyclone's onset and this may have helped lessen its impact. Clean-up operations are now underway and most roads on Rarotonga have been cleared, while communications, power and water are all working.

“New Zealand's High Commission staff in Rarotonga are liaising with the Cook Islands' government on initial damage assessments that might lead to requests for assistance. A clear picture is not expected before 5pm today, and assessments will continue over the next few days, especially of damage in the outer islands.

“We are also liaising closely with our FRANZ partners, France and Australia, should a coordinated response be necessary."

Mr Goff said staff at NZAID, the government’s aid agency, had been monitoring the cyclone throughout the weekend, while defence personnel were also on stand-by.

ENDS

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