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Tropical Cyclone Freda Lashes Solomon Islands With Winds, Rain

Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Solomon Islands, located about 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) northeast of Australia, are bracing for floods as Tropical Cyclone Freda brought strong winds in the second major storm to hit the South Pacific region this month.

The category 3 storm was about 102 nautical miles (117 miles) south of Rennell Island, moving south-southeast and intensifying, the Solomon Islands meteorological service division said on its website. Winds as strong as 98 miles per hour are expected near the center, it said.

The division has issued a tropical cyclone warning with moderate to heavy swells, rain and thunderstorms that will cause flooding in coastal and low-lying areas.

Freda follows tropical cyclone Evan, a category 4 storm that left at least two people dead and more than 8,000 sheltering in emergency centers in Samoa. In neighboring Fiji, at least 13,900 people sought shelter in evacuation centers, according to Australia’s foreign aid agency.

There have been no reports of death or injuries in the Solomon Islands, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported today. Freda is expected to steer clear of the neighboring islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia, the ABC said, citing the Bureau of Meteorology in Brisbane.

Off Australia’s western coast, Tropical Cyclone Mitchell, a category 1 storm, is weakening, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website. Mitchell is moving south at 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) an hour, and isn’t expected to affect Western Australia in the next 48 hours, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nichola Saminather in Sydney at nsaminather1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net

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