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Australia has increased its cyclone assistance for the Cook Islands and Tokelau to $200,000 in the wake of the continuing devastation being caused by Cyclone Percy, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Bruce Billson announced today.
'Australia is working closely with FRANZ partners France and New Zealand to assist with recovery operations in Tokelau and the Northern Cook Islands, and Australian, French and New Zealand officials remain in close contact to monitor the impact of Cyclone Percy,' Mr Billson said.
'Assistance for the Cooks Islands has been increased to $150,000 and $50,000 is being provided to Tokelau to assist with recovery efforts.
'Cyclone Percy has strengthened and is now a Category 4 cyclone. After battering the Northern Cook Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau on 28 February, the cyclone is now bearing down on the Southern Cook Islands.
'Latest reports from the Pacific indicate that Palmerston Atoll, in the Southern Cooks, is likely to be Cyclone Percy's next target.
'Palmerston is a very small atoll with a population of around 50 people. There are no cyclone proof buildings, but local residents who are very accustomed to cyclones, wait out the storms in the interior part of the largest island away from the storm surge,' Mr Billson said.
Cyclone Percy is the fourth cyclone to hit Cook Islands in 2005 after cyclones Meena, Nancy and Olaf. A state of emergency has also been declared in the Northern Cook Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau.
Media inquiries: Shane Fairlie
(Mr Billson's office) 0408 680 442
AusAID (Public Affairs) 0417 680 590