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Natural Disasters

Type

Occurs

Comments / Details

Drought

Yes

Rarotonga relies on rainwater for its source of drinking water so is subject to shortages during prolonged dry periods, however this has never resulted in an emergency situation. The Outer Islands are not affected in this way as they use bores for sourcing water.

Earthquakes

No

According to the earthquake hazard predictions, Cook Islands are situated in a relatively quiet seismic area and have low chance of experiencing a strong earthquake in the next 50 years. Nonetheless, the larger tectonic area of Pacific “Ring of Fire” can in the future generate tsunamis that may affect Cook Islands' shores (PCRAFI, 2011).

Epidemics

Yes

Outbreaks of Dengue fever occur from time to time but are quickly contained and there have been no deaths recorded from it in the past 10 years

Extreme Temperatures

No

 

Flooding

Yes

Flooding can occur to low-lying areas as a result of king tides and wave surges. This is generally not life-threatening.

Insect Infestation

No

 

Mudslides

No

 

Volcanic Eruptions

No

 

High Waves / Surges

Yes

Disasters like tsunamis may pose threats to human lives and the infrastructure of the Cook Islands in the future. In 1909, a tsunami with waves of up to three metres high caused damage to roads, bridges and crops in Rarotonga.

Wildfires

No

 

High Winds

Yes

Tropical cyclones are the single most likely natural hazard to affect the Cook Islands, with cyclone season falling between November and April. In the 41-year period between 1969 and 2010, a total of 47 tropical cyclones passed within 400 km of Rarotonga, an average of just over one cyclone per season. The number of cyclones varies widely from year to year, with none in some seasons, but up to six in others. Over the period 1969 to 2010, cyclones occurred more frequent in El Niño years.

Other Comments

 

Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife

No

 

International Conflict

No

 

Internally Displaced Persons

No

 

Refugees Present

No

 

Landmines / UXO Present

No

 

Other Comments

 

 

For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters Country Profile.

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