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3 dead, 8000 evacuated


Apr 01, 2012 12:00:00 AM

3 dead, 8000 evacuated Fiji's floods have so far claimed three victims and forced more than 8000 people into 100 evacuation centres as the country grapples with more heavy rain, more flooding and Tropical Cyclone Daphne.

Cyclone Daphne was located about 540 kilometres west-southwest of Nadi at 6pm today, but was expected not to pose a direct threat to any land area in Fiji, the Fiji Meteorological Service said late today.

But the rain associated with the system is expected to make an already bad situation in the Western Division worse. Authorities have already declared the region a state of natural disaster.

Fiji police told FijiLive this morning they had retrieved the body of an i-Taukei man from Nadi River late yesterday, and are awaiting identification and cause of death.

The body of a 20-year-old Fijian male was retrieved on Friday from Raviravi Creek in Ba, and an unidentified man’s body is being kept at Lautoka mortuary.

Fiji Police had confirmed yesterday the unidentified man’s body was retrieved from his vehicle after it was swept away by strong currents in Nadi

Earlier, a 57-year old Lautoka woman had died at the Lomolomo evacuation centre due to diabetes complications so is not being counted as a flood-related death.

Eleven people had died when similar floods hit the Western Division in January.

And three Vatukoula gold miners remain in hospital after being injured by falling rocks in a mine shaft on Saturday evening. Eight were treated and sent home.

Travellers can now access Nadi with one-way traffic now allowed on the Navo Bridge. Some West roads have been opened, but the majority remain closed.

Air Pacific, Jetstar and Air New Zealand have announced several flights to carry stranded passengers into and out of Fiji after the government lfited the inbound passenger ban today.

It is belived that over 2000 Australian and New Zealand holiday makers are stranded in Fiji hotels.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama today announced duty and value added tax exemptions on any flood relief supplies from abroad coordinated through governent offices.

The government has been working hard to get relief supplies to people who need them, but has been hindered by the infrastructure damage.

A total of 8008 evacuees are now in close to 100 evacuation centers as of this morning.

There are 4676 adults and 3110 children in the centres, according to a government statement.

In the Western Division, Sigatoka had the largest number with 3007, followed by 2009 in Nadi.

There are 1146 people in Ba evacuation centres, 1000 in Lautoka, 538 in Tavua and 84 in Ra.

In the Central/Eastern Division, there are 14 evacuation centers with 210 people.

Water levels in the Rewa River in the Central Division have receded, but with more rain expected in the next few days, a flood alert remains in force. Nausori town on the banks of the river is the country's fourth largest with a population of 47,604.

Permanent Secretary for Provincial Development and Natural Disaster Management, Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu said they are doing all they can to help those that need it the most.

“The fact of the matter is strong weather conditions continue.”

Lt Col Seruiratu said this flood was worse than in January or the flooding in 2009.

"About twice as much water has come in half as much time," he said.

Authorities have been hampered in responding for help due to damaged roads and bridges.

The declared state of emergency zone includes areas from Rakiraki till Tavua and Ba districts namely Wailotua, Koronubu and Ravuravu and Nasolo village, Toge and Balevuto.

In Lautoka, the area is from Bareta flats to Natabua and Drasa flats till Nadi district and includes Korociriciri, Moala village, Korovuto, Nawaqa and Namaka, Sikituru right up to Votualevu and nearby areas.

In Nadroga district, the areas are from Sigatoka town and Malawai and Navosa and Nasikawa and Nawakubu.

All schools in the West remain closed until further notice. Schools in the central and eastern divisions are to close from tomorrow.

The Fiji Electricity Authority is rationing power in the Central Division after a transmission tower fell and disrupted supply from the Wailoa Hydro Power Station.

Yesterday, despite the bad weather Christians in the country celebrated Palm Sunday while Hindus celebrated Ram Navami or the the birth of Lord Ram, and prayed for blessings and better weather.

By Farzana Nisha/Ropate Valemei/Keresi Nauwakarawa

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