April 10, 2014

Cyclone hits Milne Bay

A Cyclone yesterday swept through Milne Bay causing extensive damage to properties, with officials particularly concerned about the impacton two outlying islands.
Provincial disaster and emergency co-ordinator Eric Balaria said from Alotau yesterday that Rossel Island, south east of Alotau, and Sudest Island, further to the south, had been the worst hit with heavy flooding reported.
The two islands were directly in the path of the cyclone. Contacts with outlying islands were cut off yesterday.
Weather forecaster Kwekweina Maiwori said Cyclone Ita was rated a Category Three cyclone.
“It means it is severe and can be very devastating to anything in its path. It has wind gusts of up to 205 kilometres per hour at the centre,” he said.
He said the cyclone was following a south-westerly path towards Alotau.
Maiwori said people in Alotau and Amazon Bay, in Central, had been warned to brace themselves for the worst.
“The weather is serious,” he said.
Balaria said although no casualties had been reported so far, they would not determine the full extent of the damage until they had conducted a proper assessment when the weather cleared.
“The provincial disaster office is still collecting information and is yet to release an official statement on the casualties,” he said.
The cyclone was heading south west at about 10 kilometres per hour.
Kabasi Didi in Samarai said they were experiencing swells of up to three metres high, strong winds and heavy rain yesterday.
People in Alotau giving updates of Cyclone Ita on social network Facebook said it passed through Nimowa islands on Tuesday night, leaving the place “in a mess”. 
One message read: “Many houses down, gardens washed away. 
“Sea ambulance is OK. Not looking good for the people. So sorry.” 
Reports from Alotau last night indicated that strong winds damaged homes and food gardens. Trees, including, bananas and coconuts were uprooted.
Roofs of houses were blown off. A tree fell on the Anglican Church canteen at Middletown, Alotau.  
The market house was blown down. 
A resident said the power supply was cut off yesterday afternoon with heavy rain and strong winds continuing last night.