Fiji declares a state of emergency for cyclone aid
Tuesday 16 March 2010
Fiji declared a state of emergency today and ordered troops to launch relief operations in northern regions battered by a powerful cyclone that knocked out power and forced thousands of people to flee into shelters.
Cyclone Tomas' onslaught began to weaken Tuesday, but the scope of destruction was not clear because communications were cut to the outer islands and to northern areas of Vanua Levu, the group's second-biggest island, that were hardest hit, officials said.
One death has been reported, and a nationwide curfew was still in effect.
Fiji's National Disaster Council declared a 30-day state of emergency for the country's northern and eastern divisions Tuesday, ordering troops to be deployed as soon as possible to provide relief, including food, water and basic supplies.
Packing winds of up to 130 mph (205 kph) at its center, and gusts of up to 175 mph (280 kph), Cyclone Tomas continued to blast through the northern Lau and Lomaiviti island groups and the northern coast of Vanua Levu on Tuesday, the nation's weather office said.
Matt Boterhoven, Fiji's Tropical Cyclone Center's senior forecaster, said Tomas was still a Category 4 storm, but was expected to weaken to Category 3 by late Tuesday as it moves into the open sea south of the island group.
Sea surges of up to 23 feet (7 meters) were reported in the Lau island group, which was hit head-on by the cyclone, causing major flooding, Boterhoven said, adding that the surges would take at least 36 hours to subside.
Rain had drenched northern areas with up to 14 inches (350 millimeters) over two days and was still falling.
National Disaster Management Office spokesman Anthony Blake said power, water, sewage and other services were disrupted in many northern areas, with all airstrips and airports closed and storm surges smashing into coastal villages and schools. More than 17,000 people were in 240 government shelters, he said.
Initial damage assessments will likely be made Wednesday, when airplanes are expected to survey the northern islands and Vanua Levu, Blake said.
The country's military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarara, has appealed for international assistance, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said, and the governments of New Zealand, France and Australia were trying to determine how best to help. The New Zealand air force was on standby to fly emergency supplies to Fiji and assist with aerial reconnaissance.
The capital, Suva, has been lashed by high winds and rains, and the government extended a nationwide curfew to Wednesday morning to keep people in their homes.
By Tuesday afternoon, flights had resumed into the main international airport at Nadi, on the main island of Viti Levu. There were no immediate reports of tourists being caught in the cyclone.
Late Friday, a 31-year-old woman was swept away by strong ocean currents in Vanua Levu's Cakaudrove province after she saved her two children from a storm surge, police spokeswoman Atunaisa Sokomuri said.
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Three killed at South Korean nuclear reactor days after hackers target country's atomic agency
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...