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 Six killed in Fiji storms

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Annie

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PostSubject: Six killed in Fiji storms   Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:32 pm

Six killed in Fiji storms
From correspondents in Suva
Agence France-Presse
January 11, 2009 07:19pm

A STATW of emergency has been declared in Fiji as severe storms brought widespread flooding with at least six people feared dead.
Thousands were evacuated from their homes and those living in low-lying areas were advised to move to higher ground as rivers burst their banks.

Tourists in the popular resort area of Denarau Island were trapped after the only road to the airport was inundated.

Interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama declared the state of emergency on the recommendation of the National Disaster Management Office (Dismac), Interim National Security Minister Epeli Ganilau said.

"It is basically to safeguard lives and property. We want to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the flood hit areas," Mr Ganilau told the Fijilive website.

The suspected death toll was six and police warned of the risk of more fatalities as they pleaded with parents to prevent children swimming in the flooded rivers and creeks.

In the village of Malabi the body of a 19-year-old was found, with two girls missing and believed dead after being caught in a landslide.

In Ba, a 31-year-old man died after he was washed away by strong currents while elsewhere in Fiji searches were under way for at least two children swept away in flood waters.

Police imposed curfews in the flood-ravaged towns of Nadi, Ba and Sigatoka to curb looting and ensure public safety after heavy rain and flooding over the past four days.

"There is no power in the main town's business district and other areas like Narewa Village where 15 to 20 houses are under water," Nadi mayor Timoci Koroiqica told FijiLive.

The mayor of Ba, Pravin Bala, said the town was under more than a metre of water at high tide.

"Police are now monitoring movement in the town area and trying to restrict people from coming into town because one life has been lost already and we don't want that to be repeated,"
he said.

Dismac officials said more than 2340 people were sheltering in evacuation centres.

The Fiji Meteorological Service warned of further heavy rain and strong winds for the northern parts of the country.

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,24898705-23109,00.html
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PostSubject: Re: Six killed in Fiji storms   Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:43 am

Storm-hit Fiji declares state of emergency
Mon Jan 12, 2009 7:48am EST

By Malakai Veisamasama

SUVA (Reuters) - Fiji declared a state of emergency and curfews after severe storms and flooding struck the Pacific island nation, killing eight people and forcing thousands to evacuate homes, officials said on Monday.

The floodwaters hit over the weekend along the west coast of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu and although they were receding on Monday, some areas remained inaccessible.

"I had just finished eating and heard shouts outside, next thing I know I was thrown out of our house and buried in mud and rubble," said landslide survivor Verenaisi Rokobale, 24.

Rokobale told the Fiji Times website that she only survived the Sunday landslide in her town of Lololo because a passerby saw her hand sticking out from the mud and debris.

Weather officials warned the South Pacific nation that another low depression, bringing heavy rain and strong winds, was heading toward the Fiji island group.

"Widespread flooding, including severe flooding of major rivers and streams, is expected on Wednesday and Thursday," Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad said in a weather briefing.

Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who declared a state of emergency at the weekend, said the government was doing all it could to help people affected by the worst deluge to hit the islands in a decade.

"(My) heart goes out to those people who have suffered losses," Bainimarama said.

Under the state of emergency, curfews were imposed in Ba, Nadi and Sigatoka towns.

"It is basically to safeguard lives and property. We want to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the flood hit areas," Minister of Defense and National Security Ratu Epeli told the Fijilive website on Monday.

SWEPT AWAY

Rescue teams plucked people to safety from rooftops as floodwaters, up to 3 meters (10 ft) deep, struck some areas.

"It was really frightening. We watched as the doors of our homes were forced open by the water," Vetaia Dokonivalu in the town of Ba told local media. "We saw our belongings being swept out of the houses."

A total of 6,060 people have sought refuge at 114 evacuation centers, said the National Disaster Management Office, confirming the number of displaced which was earlier reported to be 9,000.

"We are providing meals to those in the centers we have on our list. For those who come after that, we give them biscuits, milk and other dry stock," said Joeli Rokovada, commissioner of Fiji's western district.

Health officials warned floodwater victims to be wary of diseases such as diarrhea and typhoid.

"People need to collect as much rainwater as possible and drink as much of this as possible. The other option is to boil the water," said health official Dr Isimeli Tukana.

"Watch out for food from supermarkets especially from the towns of Ba, Nadi, Sigatoka and Rakiraki. Our health inspectors will be doing their rounds as soon as the water goes down," Tukana said.

Hundreds of foreign tourists had been stranded in resorts, with flights disrupted in some airports and roads shut.

"A lot of the restaurants are shut. They've run out of food," New Zealand tourist Nigel Lagdon told TVNZ television.

The flooding washed away bridges and roads and swamped the business districts of several towns.

The flooding covers Fiji's main sugarcane-producing region.

The Fiji Retailers Association said the floods had caused millions of dollars of damages to the business community.

"Retailers have reported more than 90 percent damage and loss in stock in Ba and Nadi. There are quite a few who have a total write off of all the assets," said association president Himmat Lodhia.

(Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

Video at link

http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE50A31Y20090112
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