Cyclone may have left 400 homeless

A POWERFUL cyclone may have destroyed the homes of up to 400 people on a remote tropical island but the number of casualties remained unknown, officials said yesterday.

Cyclone Zoe blew across the southwestern Pacific islands of Tikopia and Anuta on Sunday with winds of up to 225 mph.

The storm churned up waves as high as 33 feet that crashed against the shore, flattening palm trees and homes. The storm knocked out radio communication and since the islands have no airstrip, officials don’t know exactly how bad the damage is or if anyone died.

Australian aid officials flew over Tikopia to evaluate the destruction.

They did not fly over Anuta and there were no estimates of the damage to that island.

The waves might have contaminated drinking water supplies, destroyed crops and rendered soil useless for farming for up to five months, officials with the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office said.

“There is a natural lake (on Tikopia) which could have been contaminated by the sea water and that could affect the whole island’s food chain,” said disaster office spokesman Brian Beti.

The photos and video taken by the Australian air force plane on Wednesday prompted fears of a major disaster on the islands, home to 3,700 people.

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