Cook Islands: Tropical Cyclone Martin - Nov 1997
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By OECD Development Co-operation Director Jorge Moreira da Silva
A series of devastating storms in the Caribbean has highlighted the vulnerability of small island states, where a single hurricane can undo years of development and plunge prosperous households into poverty from one day to the next.
Hurricane Irma turned 90 percent of homes on Barbuda to rubble and left financial losses of USD 100-200 million. Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire US territory of Puerto Rico.
The Cook Islands Government says there's been a good response to a trust fund set up to handle donations for victims of Cyclone Martin.
The cyclone devastated Manihiki atoll three weeks ago, leaving nine people dead and ten missing.
The fund will also be used in rebuilding efforts.
Brian Mason -- from the Cook Islands Prime Minister's office -- says major banks and an international accountancy firm are involved, and all donations will reach the cyclone victims.
Ref: DHAGVA - 97/0855
When tropical cyclone Martin hit Manihiki, an atoll in the Pacific's Cook Islands, earlier this month, not all the 660 inhabitants
were prepared. Almost 370 islanders were evacuated to the capital of Rarotonga, a distance of 1,000 kilometres, where local citizens have opened their homes and donated food, clothes and blankets through the Red Cross. "People have been very generous, but many have little to share and cannot feed an extra group of relatives for a long time," says Gill Vaiimene,
Ref: DHAGVA - 97/0545
1. In response to a request from Hon. Tepure Tepaitau, Minister Responsible for Disaster Management in the Cook Islands, a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team was deployed from UNDHA's South Pacific Programme Office (SPPO) and UNDP-Apia to assist the Government in assessment and relief operations following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Martin between 31 October and 1 November 1997. This Situation Report is compiled from the team's initial report.
A search is continuing in the Cook Islands for survivors of last weekend's devastating cyclone.
As Pacific correspondent Richard Dinnen reports, Cyclone Martin killed six people and injured more than 30.
13 people are still missing, many of them had been swept into the huge lagoon at Manihiki atoll, and were then washed over the reef by big waves and carried out to sea. Many people survived in the water for 20 hours or more, so there is still some faint hope for those still missing. A New Zealand Air Force Orion has searched waters to the west of Manihiki today.
The survival of four people who were washed out to sea during a cyclone in the Cook Islands has been described as a miracle.
The four people climbed onto a small boat on Manihiki atoll -- which was hit by Cyclone Martin over the weekend.
The boat was swept out to sea at the height of the storm on Sunday -- and washed up on Rakahanga atoll, 50 kilometres north of Manihiki this morning.
The four people are being treated in hospital -- and Temu Okotai from the Disaster Management Office says they've had a very lucky escape.