Late last week, Cyclone Zoe swept across the eastern end of the Solomon Islands chain in the South Pacific, washing away hundreds of homes and killing possibly thousands of people. The two islets hit the hardest were Tikopia and Anuta, which together had a population of over 3,700. After the cyclone struck the islands, all contact with them was lost. Arial photographs taken by Australian aid workers on January 2 revealed that the cyclone completely leveled two Tikopian villages inhabited by 700 people. All that remained were flattened wood huts and splintered palm trees. As there are no airstrips on the two tiny islands, help may not arrive for several days.
The above image of Cyclone Zoe was taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on December 29, 2002. The image shows the cyclone off the coast of the Banks Islands, heading northwest into the Solomon Islands. The cyclone was packing sustained winds of over 225 miles (360 kilometers) per hour when it struck Tikopia and Anuta.