The beautiful holiday destination of French Polynesia is on red alert today as a powerful cyclone bears down on the islands.
Heavy rains and high winds have already lashed the Island of Bora Bora, destroying homes and cutting power supplies.
Hitting neighbouring Tahiti earlier today, local people and tourists were warned to stock up and batten down the hatches.
One woman said: ‘‘The boat touched the middle of the bungalow. Nobody was steering it and it got stranded between two homes. It hit them smashing the walls. It’s also damaged the docks and is still stuck between the two bungalows.’‘
Cyclone Oli is estimated to be the most powerful storm in decades and many islanders have been rushing to get supplies before it arrives.
Those living close to the sea have been advised to take refuge in stronger buildings inland.
‘‘I’m afraid. I’m so frightened. We live right next to the sea. I have a 10-year-old son. We are going to try to go to my mother-in-law’s. She lives next to the mountains. We’re trying to take everything we need, but we can’t take everything.’‘
Oli is expected to reach its peak in the next few hours. Tourists cannot fly out of the Islands and hospital staff have been told to stay on duty as the French territory prepares for the worst.