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Cyclone bearing down on Cooks

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 15:11 19/03/2014

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A new tropical cyclone has formed near the Cook Islands resort atoll, Aitutaki.

Cyclone Mike is forecast to hit the island recently made famous by the controversial Air New Zealand-Sports Illustrated-themed safety video.

The Fiji-Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre has issued a warning for the Cooks' main island of Rarotonga.

It said this afternoon that Mike was 100 kilometres west of Aitutaki and was moving south-southeast at about 33kmh.

The centre said winds at the cyclone's centre were averaging 64kmh with gusts to 93kmh.

Rarotonga has been told to expect periods of heavy rain, thunderstorms, flooding, high seas and damaging heavy swells.

The Cook Islands has had brutal cyclone experiences in recent years.

In 1997 Cyclone Martin slammed into the northern Manihiki atoll, virtually destroying all habitation and killing 28 people.

In February 2005 Cyclone Meena inflicted major damage on Rarotonga, including the complete swamping of the celebrated Trader Jack's waterfront bar.

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