Deadly Cyclone Evan to hit Fiji
By Cleo Fraser
Samoa is starting to clean up after the deadly Cyclone Evan as Fiji braces for its impact.
Locals and tourists awoke to major destruction across Samoa's capital Apia today after the cyclone ripped through the area from Thursday, leaving three dead and seven missing.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, says that following an inspection of the damaged areas, a major clean-up will begin.
At least two children are among three people who were reportedly drowned when the Vaisigano River, which runs through the centre of Apia, burst its banks.
Seven people who were on two boats are missing, he said.
"In terms of its impact, certainly in Apia, it's definitely major," Mr Hurley said.
"The last time a cyclone of such significance would have been in the 1990s when there were two cyclones that were very destructive.
"The destruction has been evident in the number of trees and power poles that have knocked down completely."
The 130 New Zealanders registered in Samoa are safe and well.
A state of disaster in the country of nearly 200,000 people was declared after Evan swept in from the Pacific and hit Apia on the main island Upolu on Thursday.
The cyclone brought widespread flooding, destroyed houses and crops, and blocked roads with trees and toppled power poles.
Mr Hurley said trees and power poles that were swept into Vaisigano River had an "amazing destruction force".
Up to 3000 people have sought refuge from flooding in emergency shelters in Apia and scores of tourists have been evacuated from coastal resorts to higher ground.
Electricity was cut to most areas of Samoa, but was expected to be restored to Apia's central business district later today. Other areas will have to wait up to two months before power can be restored.
A water treatment plant has also been destroyed.
Mr Hurley says New Zealand's involvement in the recovery will be decided in the coming days.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully earlier said New Zealand was ready to help.
The category-four storm is expected to hit Fiji tomorrow and Fiji's Ministry of Social Development is warning residents to prepare for a major weather event. The cyclone, which is intensifying, is expected to hit northern parts of Tonga today.