Cyclone Yasa: Fiji orders entire population to take shelter as devastating typhoon makes landfall

Storm is expected to intensify into a severe category 5 cyclone, said to be the worst in Fiji’s recorded history

Shweta Sharma
Thursday 17 December 2020 15:13
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Typhoon Yasa makes landfall in Fiji

The Fiji government on Thursday declared a nationwide curfew and ordered residents to take shelter as “super storm” Yasa made landfall as a category 4 cyclone, unleashing hurricane-force winds, widespread rains and giant waves.  

According to Fiji’s meteorological  department, Yasa made landfall over the province of Bua around 6 pm local time, two hours earlier than predicted, with winds of 240 kph (149 mph).

“Destructive winds are likely to begin several hours before the cyclone centre passes overhead or nearby,” it said in a statement. “Close to its centre, the cyclone is expected to have average winds up to 240 km/hr with momentary gusts to 345 km/hr.”

A high tide warning has also been issued in coastal areas with storm surge of heights upto 10 metres (33 feet), about two-storeys high.

“The impact for this super storm is more or less the entire country,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a video posted on Facebook.  

Mr Bainimarama asked the Pacific island nation’s nearly one million population to take shelter in safer place ahead of a 14-hour nationwide curfew beginning 4 pm on Thursday (0400 GMT).

The cyclone will impact 95 per cent of the population, more than 850,000 Fijians, who would be in direct path of the storm, he warned.  

Major roads in Rakiraki district of Fiji's Ra Province have been flooded and the area has been hit with gushing winds of more than 100 kmh since 10 am on Thursday.

The visuals from the island show landslides, fallen trees and overpowering winds. A warning has also been issued about potential landslides, flash flooding and "severe coastal inundation."

Many regions across the island are already witnessing power outages.  

Yasa is expected to "easily surpass" the strength of 2016's Cyclone Winston,” the most intense tropical storm of the Southern Hemisphere which left a trail of mass destruction and killed more than 40 Fijians.

Yasa is said to be the fourth most powerful tropical cyclone recorded in the South Pacific region, according to Weather Watch, a New Zealand-based weather channel.

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