Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Cyclone Evan: Samoans in NZ anxious for news

Samoans in New Zealand are still anxiously waiting to hear how their loved ones fared after Cyclone Evan hit.

New Zealand Samoans have started to board flights for the islands to help relatives rebuild. Air NZ has scheduled two extra flights.

More than 4000 people remain in emergency shelters after the cyclone destroyed homes and took out electricity and fresh water supplies.

Yesterday Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said he expected the cost of damage to exceed $200 million.

Ongoing food shortages are a concern after widespread destruction of crops.

New Zealand has provided $50,000 to assist with the on-ground response, but will consider additional assistance as damage is assessed.

With power still down in rural communities and roads blocked, many Samoans here have yet to hear from relatives and friends.

Labour's MP for Mangere Su'a William Sio said many were still anxiously awaiting news.

With so many wanting to return to the islands to offer support, Mr Sio had asked airline carriers to relax their fees and put on extra flights.

"In times like this, the rebuilding isn't just about rebuilding structures. It's also about giving comfort to those who have lost homes, who have lost loved ones."

Yesterday Maritime New Zealand said that 10 fishermen were missing after the cyclone struck.

But as the searches continued remarkable tales of survival began to emerge as others were found.

Fisherman Asa Punasi washed ashore after spending two nights clinging to driftwood.

Mr Punasi told 3 News he watched his father and friends drown after his and other boats were sucked under by a huge whirlpool.

He finally washed ashore on Savai'i around 3am on Friday morning, found a local pastor's house and was taken to hospital.

Another fisherman survived 24 hours in the turbulent ocean after holding on to a piece of wood.

- NZ Herald

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