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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Storm devastates Tristan da Cunha

By diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall

It has emerged that the island of Tristan da Cunha - the most remote inhabited place in the world - has been devastated by a severe storm.

It hit the South Atlantic island, which is one of the United Kingdom's overseas territories, 10 days ago.


The wind was so strong it blew cows and sheep out to sea

No one was hurt, but the British Foreign Office has confirmed that many buildings were damaged, and communications with the outside world severely disrupted.

According to reports that are now beginning to emerge, the storm hit on 23 May.

Gusts of up to 190km an hour ripped off roofs and guttering and shattered windows.

The island's hospital and community centre were destroyed, as was the only pub, and bells from the church belfry.

Communications damaged

No one was hurt, but it is estimated that all 300 residents had damage to their property.

One unconfirmed report says the wind was so strong it blew cows and sheep out to sea.

Tristan da Cunha has always been remote - the most isolated island in the world, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Communications have also been damaged - no doubt the reason details have taken so long to emerge.

A disaster relief fund has been set up. The British Government has allocated 75,000 ($106,000).

But how soon emergency aid will reach the island is not clear.

This is apparently some of the worst winter weather the area has ever had, and landing supplies may not be easy.

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