Two killed as tropical Cyclone Evan hits Samoa
Two people have been confirmed dead as Cyclone Evan causes widespread destruction around the Samoan capital of Apia. It is understood most of the roads out of Apia are now cut off, with all of the rivers flooded in the region the storm made landfall earlier today. The category-two storm is generating winds of more than 110 kilometres per hour at its centre. Storm and flood warnings have been issued, with forecasts that it will cause a sea surge of more than three metres along the Samoan coast.
Two people have been confirmed dead as Cyclone Evan causes widespread destruction around the Samoan capital of Apia.
The category-two storm made landfall in Apia earlier today, bringing heavy rainfall and winds of up to 110 kilometres per hour.
A state of disaster has now been declared.
Homes and crops have been destroyed, rivers flooded, trees and power lines toppled, roads cut and office buildings damaged.
The cyclone, thought to be one of the most powerful to hit the Pacific nation in 20 years, also forced the closure of the airport.
Storm and flood warnings have been issued, with forecasts that it will cause a sea surge of more than three metres along the Samoan coast.
Evan is expected to make landfall in neighbouring American Samoa tonight.
Neville Koop, the meteorology and climate adviser to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program, has told Radio Australia that Evan is expected to eventually head south towards Fiji, which is also preparing for rough weather.
Earlier today, Samoa Metservice forecaster Mulipola Austalia Titimaea told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that the capital was experiencing high winds.
"At the moment some of our observation stations are experiencing gale-force winds, mainly in the exposed coastal areas and highlands."
Some damage has already been reported at Apia's airport, including a collapsed walkway.
Local reporter Cherelle Jackson says trees have been torn down in Apia and there has been flash flooding across Apia.
"There has been flash flooding all over town, blocking the roads, and people have been kept from their homes," she told Pacific Beat, adding that emergency services were working to clear the roads.
"Just where I am two of our neighbours have evacuated. Their houses have been flattened. Power poles are down, breadfruit trees, taro trees, banana trees - the staple of part of our diet, they're just all over the road."
Monica Miller, Radio Australia's reporter in Pago Pago, says people have been boarding up their homes and schools are closed.
"Some of the people started making preparations yesterday, while others started this morning," she said.
"There are designated shelters, usually church halls, that people can go to if they are inundated."
Evan is the first named cyclone of the South Pacific's summer cyclone season.
The UN Disaster Management Office in Samoa and the country's disaster advisory committee have met to discuss the potential impact and necessary preparedness measures.