Fiji in state of disaster as cyclone hits

Fiji’s government has declared a 30-day state of disaster as Cyclone Tomas cut a swathe of destruction through the north and east of the nation, forcing more than 17,000 to flee to evacuation centres.

NASA's Terra Satellite

Winds averaging 165 kilometres an hour lashed the Pacific island group for a second day on Tuesday, with the category four storm damaging buildings and crops, cutting communications and flooding low-lying areas.

The worst affected areas appear to be the eastern outlying islands and Vanua Levu, where electricity, water and sewage services have been damaged.

The full extent of the devastation is still unclear, as communication links with many of the smaller islands remain cut off. Reports suggested Cyclone Tomas is the worst in living memory.

The only confirmed death so far is that of a woman who drowned in the seas off the second largest island of Vanua Levu as the cyclone approached.

Cyclone Tomas’s impact is expected to lessen from Tuesday evening as it weakens and moves south.

The international airport at Nadi has reopened, but schools and government offices remain closed with a curfew extended until Wednesday for all areas except the western region of Viti Levu.

Meanwhile, a second cyclone, Ului, has struck the southern Solomon Islands, and is now moving south-west over the Coral Sea.


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