Solomon Islands + 1 more

AusAid Pacific Cyclones Update 31 Jan 2003

Australian officials in Canberra, Port Vila and Noumea continue to closely monitor the progress of Cyclone Beni and stand ready to assist Pacific Governments in assessment of, and response to, cyclone damage.
Cyclone Beni, which had reached Category Four status, has now weakened to Category One. Tropical Cyclone Beni developed over the Coral Sea, south of Solomon Islands on Saturday 25 January 2003.

Vanuatu Meteorological Services (VMS) reported Cyclone Beni, then Category Four, passed 50 NM west of Tanna Island and 40 NM northwest of Aneityum Island in Southern Vanuatu yesterday evening (30 January).

VMS issued destructive storm force winds warning for Tanna and Aneityum and damaging gale force winds warning were issued for Vila, Eromango and nearby smaller islands.

Widespread flooding of low-lying areas was expected.

Local authorities will undertake assessment of the situation and Australian, French and New Zealand authorities remain in close contact with Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office.

Cyclone Beni has now weakened to a Category One Cyclone, with winds estimated at 55 knots close to its centre.

Beni was located approximately165 NM east-northeast of Noumea, New Caledonia (21.6S 169.0E) at 5:00am today (31 January 2003) and was tracking south at approx 08 knots.

The cyclone was expected to continue weakening and later track southeast.

No assistance has been requested from Australia at this stage and there are no reports of Australian Citizens affected by the Cyclone.