Fiji struggles to restore power in wake of cyclone that killed 6

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Most of Fiji was without electricity Sunday and residents were told to stay inside for a second straight night as officials scrambled to restore services and assess damage in the wake of a ferocious cyclone that left at least six people dead and destroyed homes.

See Full Article

Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through the Pacific Island chain over the weekend, reached 285 kilometres (177 miles) per hour, making it the strongest storm in the Southern Hemisphere since record-keeping began, according to the Weather Underground website.

Although the weather calmed Sunday, a curfew was extended through early Monday and police were empowered to make arrests without a warrant to ensure order.

In a televised address to the nation Sunday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said many people had been left without power, fresh water or communications.

"The damage has been widespread, homes have been destroyed, many low-lying areas have flooded, and many people have been left stunned and confused about what to do," he said.

He said that the police and military had been brought in to help with rescue operations and the general cleanup, and that government agencies were working overtime to clear roads and restore power.

"This is a time of sorrow, but it will also be a time of action," Bainimarama said. "We will stand united in the face of this disaster."

Officials were trying to establish communications and road access to the hardest-hit areas, and said they would not know the full extent of the damage and injuries until then.

George Dregaso of Fiji's National Disaster Management Office said that two people on Ovalau Island died when the house they were sheltering in collapsed on them, and that another man was killed on Koro Island, although it wasn't clear how.

Authorities also said three people on the main island of Viti Levu were killed in the storm, but didn't have more details.

Tourism Minister Faiyaz Siddiq Koya said that all tourists in Fiji were safe and that there was no significant damage to the majority of hotels on the main island. Fiji is a popular tourist destination, known for its beach resorts and scuba diving.

Cyclone Winston hit Fiji on Saturday and moved westward overnight along the northern coast of Viti Levu. Fiji's capital, Suva, located in the southern part of the main island, was not directly in the cyclone's path and avoided the worst of its destructive power.

"Truth be told, we've gotten off pretty lightly here in the capital," said Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF. "It was still a pretty awful night. You could hear crashing trees and power lines, and popping rivets as roofs got lifted and ripped out."

She said there was foliage everywhere that looked like it had been put through a blender.

About 80 per cent of the nation's 900,000 people were without regular power, although about one-third of them were able to get some electricity from generators, said Dregaso, the disaster office official. Landlines throughout Fiji were down, but most mobile networks were working.

Dregaso said there were 483 people who had evacuated from their homes and were staying in 32 emergency shelters. He said he expected the number of evacuees to rise.

Authorities were urging people to remain indoors as they cleared fallen trees and power lines. They said that all schools would be closed for a week to allow time for the cleanup, and that three universities would be closed until further notice.

The government declared a 30-day state of natural disaster, giving extra powers to police to arrest people without a warrant.

The government said the curfew would end at 5:30 a.m. Monday.

"The curfew has been imposed to protect lives and protect property," Prime Minister Bainimarama said in his address.

Clements, the UNICEF spokeswoman, said there was particular concern for people on the northern part of the main island and on smaller islands. She said that many would have lost their homes and livelihoods, and that some tourist resorts on the outer islands may have been damaged.

The airport reopened Sunday to allow emergency flights, Dregaso said, after many flights had been cancelled the day before.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Parents jailed for 'gifting' daughter to man who sexually assaulted her

    World News CTV News
    DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday sentenced a married couple to up to seven years in prison each for giving their oldest daughter to a cult-like figure who sexually assaulted the girl and her five sisters. Source
  • At least two killed, 55 injured after explosion hits food shop in China

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - A massive explosion hit a food shop in eastern China during the breakfast rush Friday, killing two people and injuring 55, 12 of them seriously, officials said. Video from a security camera located down the street from the shop in the eastern resort city of Hangzhou showed the blast flinging dust and debris across a major road traversed by cars, buses, bicycles and scooters. Source
  • As McCain fights brain cancer, Republicans will vote without their 'consummate dealmaker'

    World News CBC News
    A devastating diagnosis that might sideline a key Republican legislator indefinitely isn't just complicating plans to advance U.S. President Donald Trump's agenda, political analysts say. It's also sidelining one of the few influential Republican critics of the administration. Source
  • B.C. wildfire state of emergency hits two-week mark

    Canada News CTV News
    KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Today marks two weeks since raging wildfires that have displaced thousands of people British Columbia forced the province to call a state of emergency. On Wednesday, Premier John Horgan said he would extend the order for an additional two weeks since many of the 43,000 people who had to flee their homes in the province's Interior will not yet be able to return. Source
  • Teens from Burundi robotics team may have 'self-initiated' vanishing

    Canada News CTV News
    MCLEAN, Va. - Organizers of an international robotics competition in the U.S. capital believe the disappearance of six teens from Burundi may have been "self-initiated." As the competition was wrapping up Tuesday, their chaperone discovered his kids were missing. Source
  • Woman to be sentenced for trying to hire hit man to kill newlywed husband

    World News CTV News
    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A former Florida escort convicted of trying to hire a hit man to murder her newlywed husband could get up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced Friday, perhaps ending a drawn-out case that drew notice for its startling videos and salacious characters. Source
  • 'Justine did not have to die': Minneapolis police chief addresses shooting of woman who called 911

    World News CBC News
    The fatal shooting of an Australian woman by a Minneapolis, Minn., police officer responding to her 911 call "should not have happened," police Chief Janee Harteau said, adding that the officer's actions "go against who we are in the department. Source
  • Israel limits Muslim access to Jerusalem site amid tensions

    World News CBC News
    Israel banned Muslim men under the age of 50 from a contested Jerusalem shrine on Friday, ahead of expected protests over the installation of metal detectors there. Police reinforcements poured into Jerusalem's Arab neighbourhoods in the morning, particularly in an around the walled Old City where the shrine is located. Source
  • Even after Trump warning, Mueller likely to probe president's finances: reports

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump's growing anxiety about the federal Russia probe has spilled into public view with his warning in a New York Times interview earlier this week that special counsel Robert Mueller would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family's finances. Source
  • In South Sudan, a child soldier long thought dead comes back

    World News CTV News
    JUBA, South Sudan -- She had no body to bury, so the grieving mother kneeled in the dirt outside her small hut, recited psalms and simply traced her finger over the uneven earth. It was December 2015, a year after Nyayan Koang’s boy was abducted by government soldiers at the age of just 14 to fight in South Sudan’s army. Source