Clean-up begins in Fiji after cyclone

An aerial photo showing destroyed Mudu village on Koro IslandImage copyright
NZDF

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The cyclone brought wind gusts of up to 320km/h (200mph)

A clean-up operation has begun after the most severe cyclone to hit Fiji in living memory, as the death toll jumped to at least 10.

Rescue workers said that number could rise as some of the worst-hit outlying islands have yet to be reached.

Cyclone Winston, which hit over the weekend, brought winds of over 320km/h (200mph), torrential rain, and waves of up to 12m (40ft).

Aerial footage shows remote villages entirely flattened.

The category-five storm – among the biggest ever to hit the southern hemisphere- moved westward after making landfall at 18:30 local time (06:30 GMT) on Saturday in the north of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.

It changed direction at the last minute, sparing the capital Suva the full force of its winds.

Media captionThere are reports of entire villages flattened by the cyclone

Aerial imagery showed some villages, particularly in outlying areas, were completely destroyed. A man in Viti Levu told Reuters the damage was so extensive that “it looks like a different country”.

The NGO Care Australia has said that 17 people have died – a figure that has yet to be confirmed. Several people are also thought to be missing at sea.

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Reuters

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People have already begun repairing the damage caused

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AFP

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For some, the devastation was total

A nationwide curfew, giving police extra powers of arrest, has now been lifted.

Schools have been ordered to shut for a week, but the main airport has been reopened to receive humanitarian supplies and allow tourists to leave

Australia and New Zealand have authorised the release of emergency aid supplies held in Suva. They have also supplied planes to help assess the damage from the air in remote areas.

The cyclone cut electricity and communication lines and destroyed hundreds of homes. The government has opened about 750 evacuation centres.

George Dregaso, of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office, told the Associated Press that about 80% of the nation’s 900,000 people were without regular electricity.

The government has declared a state of emergency and called on private companies to help provide transport and relief supplies.

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NZDF

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Islands like Yacata were hit by the full force of the storm

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Reuters

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Despite being spared the full force of the cyclone, the capital was still affected

Red Cross Pacific office head Ahmad Sami told AFP news agency humanitarian needs were likely to be “very high”.

Oxfam’s Pacific Regional Director Raijeli Nicole said the scale of the disaster would become clear once communications were restored with the remote areas worst affected.

“The Fijians are desperately trying to repair severed lines of communication, but they hold grave fears that the news waiting for them will be dire,” she said.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama described the storm on Saturday as “an ordeal of the most grievous kind”.

“When we are able, we will provide timelines for the return of water and power,” he said.

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Reuters

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The new hospital in the town of Ba lies ruined

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AFP

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Schools, many of which were damaged, have been closed

Tourism Minister Faiyaz Siddiq Koya said the storm had caused widespread devastation, but insisted that “all visitors are safe and comfortable”, despite a lack of communication with some areas.


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