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Cook Islands avoids worst of Olaf


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WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Cyclone Olaf has swung by the main populated area of the Cook Islands causing property damage but there are no reports of injuries or loss of life.

The cyclone, the third to hits the Cooks in the past two weeks, has now moved out into the Southern Ocean.

Alerts and warnings are now being downgraded in the region, according to the Australian-Pacific Center for Emergency and Disaster Information.

In Samoa, which missed a direct hit from Cyclone Olaf, clean-up work has begun, Australian aid agency AusAID reports.

Initial assessments indicate that damage from the cyclone was largely limited to crop damage, power lines and fallen trees, it said.

U.S. President George W. Bush has declared a major disaster in the Manu'a islands group of American Samoa.

Meanwhile, U.S. Coastguard transport aircraft have found a boat missing for two days in the area.

All six crew were safe, Reuters reports.

A New Zealand air force reconnaissance plane is still looking for two crew from another boat that sank in stormy seas.


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