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Thousands flee floods as cyclone batters Solomon Islands

Published on Dec 30, 2012 1:12 PM

HONIARA (AFP) - Thousands of people were forced to flee rapidly rising rivers in the Solomon Islands, officials said on Sunday as Cyclone Freda intensified into a "destructive" force storm and headed towards New Caledonia.

Wind gusts had strengthened to more than 231 kilometres per hour as Freda developed into a powerful category four storm, said Mr Sajay Prakesh at the Nadi Tropical Cyclone Centre in Fiji.

"These winds are very destructive and can cause huge damage to infrastructure and buildings," he told AFP.

Freda is expected to reach New Caledonia on New Year's Day and "given its current form if it hits New Caledonia Freda will cause huge damage, as it will blow strong winds and heavy rain for six to seven hours".

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