police respond to small boat fear

Police in the Cook Islands say they are keeping a close watch on the movement of small boats in the northern group after authorities issued cyclone warnings early this morning.
 
Weather forecasters say Cyclone Meena is rapidly intensifying while tracking slowly east of Niue.
 
It is expected to produce gale force winds in the northern cooks over the next 18 to 24 hours before turning south east towards the southern cooks.
 
Deputy Police Commissioner Maara Tetava says that officers in the north will today count dozens of small boats as a precautionary measure.
 
Twenty people drowned in 1997 as Cyclone Martin struck Manihiki, 1,200 kilometres north of the capital.
 
Rarotonga based officials at the time refused offers of search and rescue missions from the Royal New Zealand Airforce saying that the boats were wooden and could not be picked up by radar.
 
Four days later four survivors turned up in nearby Rakahanga atoll on an aluminium dinghy.
 
They had drifted an estimated 100km to the north east on strong storm currents, in the opposite direction to the Rarotonga controlled search and rescue mission in the south west.
 
Local media say they have asked repeatedly about a registrar of small boats and that they hope police will finally get the job done today.
 

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