Widespread flooding in Samoa as Cyclone Gita leaves its mark

Considerable flooding is being reported in many parts of Samoa after torrential rain fell overnight, including in the capital of Apia.

The country has experience extensive flooding overnight from the storm now being called Cyclone Gita. Source: 1 NEWS

Footage from Apia shows very deep water with many buildings inundated.

Images from Apia show the extent of flooding on February 10
Images from Apia show the extent of flooding on February 10. Source: 1 NEWS

About 233 people have been evacuated to evacuation centres and power is out in parts of the country.

The Disaster Management Office is now assessing the damage.

The country has been on alert since a cyclone warning was issued earlier this week for the potential impact of the storm now being called Cyclone Gita.

A toppled container in Apia after strong winds hit the Samoan capital on February 10
A toppled container in Apia after strong winds hit the Samoan capital on February 10. Source: 1 NEWS

Latest estimates suggest the winds from the storm could ramp up in Samoa today, but considerable rainfall has already been recorded.

The Samoa Observer reported that flights were cancelled yesterday between Apia and Auckland, as well as from Sydney to Apia.

A Special Weath Bulletin has been issued by the Samoa Meteorological Service and residents across Samoa are warned to expect heavy rain, very strong winds and big swells today.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear whether the storm could track towards New Zealand.

MetService's latest update on tropical cyclone activity said as of 4pm yesterday the storm was still not technically a cyclone, and is currently considered to only be a tropical depression, but also said the chance of it becoming one was high.

The forecaster said it should curve south toward Niue on Sunday, then turn west towards Tonga on Monday, and could track south of Fiji on Tuesday.


'UFO' spotted in the background during Spacex live video

Conspiracy theorists are buzzing after someone pointed out an unidentified flying object which appeared in the background of SpaceX's live video from their 'Starman' Tesla.

The company, headed by Elon Musk, launched a cherry red Tesla roadster into space this week, and as part of the launch they published a live video feed from the car as it slowly drifted away from Earth.

During the feed, a small object can be seen in the background, seemingly in orbit around Earth and travelling at high speed.

Some have jumped to a conclusion that it could be an alien craft - curiously watching the unusual event - but others have theorised that it was much more likely to be a piece of space junk or a man-made object.

The United States Strategic Command estimated that the number of large man-made objects in orbit was about 17,852 as of 2016.



#Metoo advocate Cristina Garcia accused of groping a man

The California Legislature's widening sexual misconduct scandal now includes allegations against a Democratic lawmaker known for her fierce advocacy on women's issues, including an anti-sexual harassment movement that began sweeping the Capitol last fall.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia said Thursday she'll fully cooperate with an investigation into an allegation she groped a 25-year-old man who worked for another lawmaker in 2014.

Daniel Fierro alleges that she stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch in the dugout after a legislative softball game.

Garcia said she doesn't recall the incident.

Fierro didn't report it at the time but in January told his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who reported it to Assembly leaders.

Speaker Anthony Rendon confirmed an investigation is underway on Thursday, after Politico first reported it.

"I trust that while the investigation proceeds Assemblymember Garcia will respond appropriately and in a way that fortifies the Legislature's effort to create a new climate," he said in a statement.

Garcia is the latest lawmaker, and the first woman, in the California Legislature to face accusations following the #MeToo movement, which began last fall as a social media campaign used by millions to tell personal experiences with sexual harassment.

About two dozen sexual harassment allegations were made against Assembly lawmakers, staff and lobbyists in 2017 - the most within a single year since 2006 - and at least eight allegations are pending, according to documents released last week.

Garcia's spokeswoman Teala Schaff said the assemblywoman learned January 23 a complaint was filed but was given no details and only learned the specifics of the allegations from Politico.

"Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place," the Los Angeles-area lawmaker said in a statement.

"I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behaviour and such behaviour is inconsistent with my values."

Fierro said he decided to tell Calderon about the incident because of Garcia's outspokenness in the #MeToo movement, which has led to investigations in statehouses nationwide.

"If the person leading the charge on it isn't credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories," Fierro told the AP.

Garcia's photo was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue on being one of the "Silence Breakers" on sexual harassment.

She quickly condemned male colleagues who were accused of sexual misconduct last fall, allegations that prompted two to resign.

This Monday, she spoke at a rally outside the Capitol in favour of legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown giving legislative staff members whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct or other misbehaviour.

Cristina Garcia
Garcia is the first woman in the California Legislature to face accusations following the #MeToo movement. Source: Associated Press