Thursday, 18 March 2010 10:56 AM

Update 3: Fiji Begins Recovery Operations in Cyclone Aftermath

Fiji has begun more intense relief operations in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Tomas which has now passed out of the group.

According to Fiji Times Online, whose team was the first to view the damage left behind by the hurricane, it was the same scene from island to island with flattened houses, roofless buildings, belongings strewn all over the ground and plantations left in ruins.

In one case reported by Fiji Times Online, villagers of Naigani in Lomaiviti, 'were kept awake on Monday night as seven hours of meter-high storm surges ripped through the village, destroying all crops, temporary shelters used for cooking and three homes'.

The unrelenting hurricane induced swells began at about 7pm Monday and did not cease until after 2am on Tuesday.

Speaking from Naigani yesterday, villager Ilaitia Selabuca said it was a frightening experience.

"People started crying, as we watched the water tearing through the village. It was getting dark and we didn't know how much bigger it would get or how long it would last," he said.

"We were fortunate that the warning was given early and we started preparing ourselves. Earlier in the day we noticed that the tide remained high throughout the day. The sea was so turbulent we knew something was wrong. We suspected that the seas would rise and flood the village so the first to start moving were the homes by the coastline. Before dark we were all at the village church. We were fortunate that the surges subsided when there was a change in the wind direction."


There are similar reports from other islands, especially in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country which bore the brunt of the hurricane.
Most people evacuated when they were cautioned which took them out of the path of the waves.

Aerial surveys are underway to try to determine the true extent of the damage caused by the category 4 hurricane.

In the meantime, relief supplies have arrived in the country with Fiji Times reporting that the county received its first rations from the New Zealand Government yesterday consisting of two containers of supplies included temporary home material, water containers, basic health supplies and water purification tablets.

According to Fijilive, two naval boats are expected to reach outer islands today while Australian and New Zealand aircraft ferry supplies to the northern division.

National Disaster Management Office (DISMAC) acting director Pajiliai Dobui told FijiLive the two Fiji navy boats which left Suva last night are headed towards the northern and eastern divisions.

"They will be arriving there later today after which relief supplies will be distributed to those affected by Cyclone Tomas," said Dobui.

Meanwhile relief supplies continue to be offloaded from the Australian Defence Force C-130 aircraft at Nausori airport.

Dobui said part of the supplies will be flown off to Labasa by a New Zealand airforce aircraft for distribution in the north today.

"The rest will be taken to government supplies in Walu Bay to be shipped into the affected areas of the eastern division," he said.

The Australian aircraft brought eight tonnes of emergency relief supplies including 960 tarpaulins, 20 family tents, over two-thousand 10-litre water containers and 680,000 water purification tablets.

Dobui also told FijiLive the C-130 aircraft will be used for aerial surveillance missions over the Lomaiviti and Lau groups today.


There have been no serious damages reported from the capital city of Suva, where the main campus of the University of the South Pacific, which is home to students from around the region, is located.

For further reports, please visit the Fiji Times Online and Fijilive websites:
http://www.fijitimes.com.fj/
http://www.fijilive.com

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