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NZ standing by to help as cyclones threaten

NZ standing by to help as cyclones threaten

New Zealand is preparing to assist Pacific countries that may be affected by two cyclones that are approaching landfall, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

Cyclone Olaf is currently located south-east of Samoa and is likely to hit the north-east coast off Apia around midnight tonight. It is expected to gather strength to near Level Five, or near 'Super Cyclone' status, with winds potentially exceeding 200 knots.

Cyclone Nancy is north-east of Palmerston Atoll and heading south towards the Cook Islands. It is due to hit Aitutaki in the next 24-36 hours with winds of up to 65 knots.

Mr Goff said NZAID staff were in contact with local authorities in both countries, who were preparing for the onset of the cyclones.

“New Zealand is standing by to assist Samoa or the Cooks as required," Mr Goff said.

"Our High Commission staff in Apia have been contacting the 180 New Zealanders, and their families, who are listed as living in Samoa They have also been contacting tourists at hotels and resorts, alerting them to the cyclone and giving them general guidance.

“Samoa’s Faleolo Airport is expected to shut down early this evening, and residents are battening down for what could be a serious storm.”

Mr Goff said New Zealand would coordinate any action in the wake of the cyclone with Australia and France under the FRANZ Arrangement for disaster response.

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