Thousands of Fijians Shelter in Evacuation Centers From Floods, Landslides


DECEMBER 21, 2016

Sydney. Thousands of Fijians sheltered in evacuation centers and tents on Tuesday (20/12) as heavy rain and floods cut roads, covered sugarcane fields and caused landslides, said the South Pacific nation's disaster office.

Across the archipelago nation 1,716 people sought refuge in 46 evacuation centers and another 1,817 were living in tents, said the national disaster management office director, Akapusi Tuifagalele, in a video statement posted on the Fijian government's YouTube account.

"There are no reports of fatalities or serious injuries," he said, but added that the township of Rakiraki, in the north of the country's largest island, had suffered major flooding and that many roads and fields were under water nationwide.

The main road joining the capital, Suva, with Fiji's international airport at Nadi, was cut by floodwaters a spokeswoman at Suva police station told Reuters.

Another video posted Tuesday showed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama visiting the Navua district in the east of Fiji's largest island, Viti Levu.

"To those suffering in the aftermath of the recent TD04, I want to assure all of you that my Government is working overtime to reach you," he said on Twitter, referring to the storm by the number it was assigned by Fiji's weather bureau.

Fiji's Meteorological Service said in a bulletin that the tropical depression driving the rain was now weakening.

The worst-hit areas in western Fiji were still recovering from February's devastating Cyclone Winston, aid worker Peter Egesa, CARE Australia's emergency response manager.

Winston was the worst storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere. It killed 43 people in Fiji and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

Cyclones typically sweep through the tropical Pacific between November and April, with the peak season between January and March. This season Fiji's weather bureau expects "elevated" cyclone activity in the region, and predicts three cyclones to hit the archipelago.