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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Tropical Cyclone Oli causes calamity

A state of calamity was called in French Polynesia after Tropical Cyclone Oli destroyed several hundred houses on the islands of Bora Bora, Tahiti and Tubuai.

State of calamity called in cyclone-hit French Polynesia (Radio Australia)
French Polynesia is getting back on its feet after being battered by one of the worst storm in years this weekend, but Radio Australia has just learned that a state of calamity has been called as damage assessments come in.

Cyclone Oli passed across the territory this weekend, destroying hundreds of homes in Bora Bora and Tahiti. However it was the island of Tubuai, in the Austral Islands that was the worst hit
Emergency supplies being rushed to French Polynesian island hit by Cyclone Oli (Radio New Zealand International)
An estimated 600 homes were destroyed in the French Polynesia when Cyclone Oli struck last week.

One person died when the cyclone crossed the islands bringing winds in excess of 200 kilometres an hour.

The immediate need on the island of Tubuai is to restore power and water supplies.

Oli developed into a very severe tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 130 MPH (210 km/hr). The storm tracked just south of much of the French Polynesian island chain but crossed over the islands of Rurutu and Tubuai as a Category 4 cyclone on February 4th. The above mentioned calamity reports are becoming apparent durign the clean-up in the aftermath of the storms.

Cat 4 Tropical Cyclone Oli Strikes French Polynesia; RMS Analysis (Insurance Journal)

At Noon local time (Feb 4th) the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), estimated that Tropical Storm Oli's maximum sustained winds had reached approximately 130 mph (210 km/h), which would classify it as a category four hurricane.

--snip--

French television showed by now all too familiar pictures of towering waves - above 7 meters (22 feet) - breaking over large stretches of the islands. Palm trees were bent nearly to the ground and detached roofs were flying through the air.

--snip--

RMS reported. "The storm has brought strong winds, torrential rainfall and waves several meters in height to the Cook Islands, Bora Bora and Tahiti. More than 650 tourists trapped on Bora Bora have been relocated in other hotels. Schools in western Polynesia have been closed and people have been told to abandon primitive grass and mud dwellings and head to solid buildings such as town halls, schools or churches."

Reports of damages are now coming in, but sporadically. A number of buildings on Tahiti have been destroyed and many areas of the island are without power. Local authorities are in the process of evacuating low lying residents, following flooding initiated by the storm.

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