Fiji floods ease, 11 dead and 9,000 evacuated

The death toll from the floods was now 11 and 9,000 people had abandoned their homes and were sheltering in 131 evacuation centres, said emergency officials.

Fiji floods ease, 11 dead and 9,000 evacuated
The death toll from floods in Fiji has risen to 11 and 9,000 people are now sheltering in evacuation centres, but the worst floods in decades in the South Pacific island nation are starting to ease, officials said on Thursday.

Severe flooding since the weekend has devastated the west coast of Fiji's main island Viti Levu, washing away bridges and roads, cutting power, stranding thousands of foreign tourists and causing tens of millions of dollars damage to sugar farms.

While sunshine replaced rain over most of Fiji on Thursday, weather officials warned flash flooding was still a possibility.

"Although flood waters have receded in most parts, more rain is expected," Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad told local media. Weather officials are continuing to advise coastal villagers to move to higher ground.

The death toll from the floods was now 11 and 9,000 people had abandoned their homes and were sheltering in 131 evacuation centres, said emergency officials.

"At the moment there is no water or electricity in Labasa and we are advising people not to move around since the weather situation could change any time," said police spokesman Atunaisa Sokomuri.

The town of Nadi, the gateway to Fiji for international tourists, was no longer under water but was also without electricity and water. Fiji has declared a state of emergency with curfews in the towns of Ba, Nadi and Sigatoka.

Sugar is Fiji's second major industry following tourism and sugar farms in the west have been devastated by the flooding, with damages estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, said Surendra Sharma, head of the Sugar Cane Growers Council.

"The damage is currently largely through lodged cane (cane that falls or leans over), water-logged fields, silting, debris imported into the fields and washing away of recently applied fertiliser," Sharma told the Fiji Sun newspaper.

"Should the fields remain water-logged this will compound the damage and if strong winds strike, this could result in cane tops snapping. If this happens, the crop is a total write-off and nothing can be salvaged."

Fiji crushes 2-3 million tonnes of sugarcane annually.


Reuters
Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 13:24
Add Comment