Tsunami survivors brace for cyclone

NUKU'ALOFA: Tsunami survivors in Samoa and Tonga huddled in their makeshift shelters over the weekend as they braced for a second disaster in five months with the approach of Cyclone Rene.

Rene left one dead, uprooted trees and caused landslides and flooding as it swept across American Samoa yesterday, gathering intensity as it continued across the South Pacific.

The islands are still recovering from the tsunamis which killed at least 118 people last September and thousands are still living

in tents and other

improvised lodgings

after their homes

were destroyed.

“After the tsunami, we fear for our lives again,” said Taula Kapeli in the Samoan village of Lalomanu on the main Upolu island.

“Anything to do with a natural disaster, we fear. We can only pray but if a cyclone hits, most of the families will be affected because many of them are still living in tents.” Kapeli said strong winds were battering his village and people were moving inland.

The Fiji Meteorological Service warned that Rene, a category two storm, was likely to be upgraded to category three on a five-point scale as it tracks south.

In American Samoa where more than 300 people packed emergency shelters on the main island of Tutuila, a 50-year-old maintenance worker was killed when he fell from the roof of a three-storey building.

Governor Togiola Tulafono said lessons learned from the tsunamis had helped limit the damage.