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article imageTropical Cyclone Evan hits Samoan Islands, 2 dead

By Anne Sewell     Dec 13, 2012 in Environment
Apia - The first reported storm of the South Pacific cyclone season triggers flooding and structural damage, with two people dead.
The storm made landfall near the Samoan capital of Apia on Thursday, with sustained winds of more than 110kph. The storm is affecting both Samoa and American Samoa.
According to Journalist Cherelle Jackson of Australia, there was heavy damage in the Samoan capital of Apia, with houses flattened by the storm. She said that many of the open-style Samoan homes (fales), don't have windows or doors and sustained very heavy damage.
"I don't think we were well prepared because the warning didn't get serious until late last night," Jackson said in a phone interview with ABC.
Jackson said that food could be a problem after the storm, as the trees that supply Samoan staples, such as breadfruit, taro and bananas, have taken heavy damage from the storm's winds. "The breadfruits are just all over the road," she said.
Flood and storm warnings are still in force in Samoa, and a storm surge of up to 4.5 meters has been recorded along the Samoan Coast as Tropical Cyclone Evan strikes.
Apia's airport sustained damage, including a collapsed walkway. There has been flash flooding and many roads have been blocked. Emergency services are working hard to keep the roads clear.
Trees have been downed by the storm, and phone lines and electricity are out across much of the country. Tourists in the Aleipata area of southeastern Samoa have fled to higher ground.
People prepared for the worse by boarding up their homes, buying in extra provisions, and schools have been closed.
Presently the storm is located around 50km northwest of Pago Pago in American Samoa. Faleolo Airport reported 103mm of rain in the 24 hours up to 06h00 local time on Thursday. The storm is expected to intensify, raising fears of a significant disaster.
It is possible that winds may increase to 210kph with gusts approaching 260kph by 12h00 GMT on Friday, as the storm moves across the country. This would make the storm a strong Category 3 or even low Category 4, on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
The storm is likely to impact the northern islands of Tonga on Saturday and Fiji will also be affected on Sunday, at which time the winds are forecast to be up around 140kph, with damaging gusts of 170kph.
A video showing the storm can be viewed on ABC News.
Reuters is reporting that the storm is due to hit Fiji on December 17.
More about Samoa, Samoa, Islands, Islands, tropical cyclone
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