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Hurricane warnings remain for Samoa

Friday 14 Dec 2012 9:40 p.m.

Hurricane warnings are still in place for Samoa tonight, with low lying areas on flood alert due to heavy rain.

Upolu has been lashed by Tropical Cyclone Evan causing deaths and widespread damage, and it's expected to move on soon to Fiji.

“It just suddenly took off like a jet engine, it went from being stormy to a real cyclone,” says New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Apia Nick Hurley.

At least three people - including two children - are dead, and around 1500 people in low-lying areas have been evacuated.

“It's obviously extremely serious in the sense that there have been very big winds and the flooding has been very extensive,” says New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

In Apia homes and businesses were destroyed when the river Vaisigano burst its banks.

The river runs alongside the well known, historic hotel Aggie Grey's - one of a number of businesses to be inundated.

In the south of Upolu rapper Scribe was relaxing in a hotel with his new wife when the windows blew out in the deadly storm.

“The windows just smashed in like an explosion and cut me and my new wife and then barricaded inside the bathroom. I got some mattresses inside the bathroom, it actually seemed like a bomb the way it exploded,” he says.

A large part of Upolu remains without power tonight, and authorities expect to start assessing the damage tomorrow.

“We are waiting for the storm to pass and then we will get a request from the Samoa Red Cross and once they've done their assessments we'll see what sort of damage there is - but we have got people on standby who can go at short notice,” says Red Cross emergencies manager Andrew McKie.

And there's concern in Fiji and Tonga - both are in the cyclone's path - and it’s gathering strength.

Tropical Cyclone Evan is expected to make landfall in Fiji late on Sunday.

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