Pacific/Niue: Mother died shielding baby in cyclone

from Deutsche Presse Agentur
Published on 09 Jan 2004

Wellington (dpa) - About 100 people from cyclone-devastated Niue are being evacuated to New Zealand on two air force planes that took emergency supplies to the stricken island.

They include tourists stranded on Niue by Cyclone Heta, some of the 200 locals, including elderly and children made homeless when their houses were destroyed, and people injured and requiring medical attention, news reports said.

They are being flown to Auckland, where baby Daniel Alec, who was seriously injured when his house collapsed killing his 28-year-old mother, remained in critical condition after surgery at Starship Children's Hospital where he was transferred on Thursday.

Catherine Alec, a nurse at the island's hospital which was also destroyed, was crushed to death, the only known fatality of the cyclone.

Power and rationed water supplies have been restored to the island and New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff said the immediate needs of the population for food and medical supplies had been met by relief flights from New Zealand, Australia and France.

"The next challenge will be preparing an assistance package that meets Niue's longer-terms needs," he said. "Niue has suffered devastating damage, and rebuilding will take considerable time, effort and expense."

The Australian government announced it was flying a primary health care team to Niue and help install a new satellite dish to restore the one destroyed, cutting the island off from the rest of the world. dpa db blg

AP-NY-01-09-04 0027EST

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