Eight killed by flooding in Fiji

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Severe flooding in the island nation of Fiji has killed eight people and forced thousands to evacuate. The flooding is mainly in the western part of the country's main island, Viti Levu, where most of the resorts hosting international travellers are located. Fiji's National Disaster Office has advised all tourists still in the country to prepare for more bad weather and possibly more flooding.

Fiji's chief of disaster management Aisea Qumihajelo said in a statement, "There's another depression heading toward Fiji within the next two days and that will bring an additional threat." The government of Fiji's military dictator Frank Bainimarama declared a state of emergency in the city of Nadi, the country's tourist centre, and other parts of western Viti Levu.

Over 6,000 people have evacuated the area and are now in one of Fiji's 144 evacuation centers sheltered from the storm. Government sources have reported that at least six people have been killed by floodwaters, and two people were crushed by a landslide.

The flood has affected many of the rural areas of the island, washing out sugar cane crops across the area and damaging roads and bridges. "Widespread flooding, including severe flooding of major rivers and streams, is expected on Wednesday and Thursday. The western division is likely to be worse affected once again," said Fiji's director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad.

Cquote1.svg It was really frightening. We watched as the doors of our homes were forced open by the water. We saw our belongings being swept out of the houses. Cquote2.svg

—Vetaia Dokonivalu

Rescue efforts, led by the government and the Red Cross, have begun especially in rural and heavily-flooded areas. Vetaia Dokonivalu, a local resident from Ba, a hard-hit town, commented, "It was really frightening. We watched as the doors of our homes were forced open by the water. We saw our belongings being swept out of the houses."

This flooding has also caused a food crisis in some parts. Isimeli Tukana, a health official, said, "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. 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." According to the Fiji Retailers Association, the storm has caused over a million dollars worth of damage to Fiji's businesses.


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