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

  • 100 people feared buried in China landslide

    World News CBC News
    A county government in southwestern China says around 100 people from 40 homes are feared buried by a landslide that crashed into their homes. The government of Mao county in Sichuan province says the landslide from a mountain fell onto the village of Xinmo at about 6 a.m. Source
  • Wainwright-based military member charged with child porn offences

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Wainwright-based soldier is charged with child pornography related offences after a joint investigation by the province’s Internet Child Exploitation unit and the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. It’s alleged the man attempted to arrange to meet up with a Texas girl for sex, says a Friday news release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Source
  • Syrian doctor barred from U.S. under travel ban resettles in Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    A respected Syrian doctor blocked from re-entering the United States to continue his Ivy League education after U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban has found a new home in Canada. Khaled Almilaji arrived in Toronto last Friday and was reunited with his wife, Jehan Mouhsen. Source
  • Michigan terror attack planned?

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The Montreal man accused of trying to kill an airport cop in the U.S. did so on a highly symbolic day for Muslims, TVA reports. The network reports that Wednesday — the day Amor Ftouhi allegedly almost killed the officer at an airport in Flint, Michigan — was Laylat Al-Qadr or “night of fate. Source
  • Hockey hothead, 18, jailed for punching ref

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Cole Trevor Crane’s hockey horizons have been put on ice. The Dave Schultz wannabe has been jailed for 30 days after pleading guilty to pummeling a referee during a PEI midget AA hockey game on March 26. Source
  • Heavy rains prompt evacuations in Ontario town

    Canada News CTV News
    WATERLOO, Ont. - Heavy rain in the Waterloo, Ont., area has prompted some evacuations and at least one community has declared a state of emergency. The town of Minto, northwest of Kitchener, declared an emergency Friday morning and moved up to 30 families from their homes and closed some roads and streets in the community. Source
  • U.S. senators ask military to clarify role in Yemen torture

    World News CBC News
    Pressure mounted on the U.S. Defence Department Friday after multiple senators called for investigations into reports that U.S. military interrogators worked with forces from the United Arab Emirates who are accused of torturing detainees in Yemen. Source
  • Mulcair unimpressed by Canadian sniper's record kill

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    NDP leader Tom Mulcair is targeting the Liberals after it emerged a Canadian sniper smashed the world record for the longest confirmed kill. The gunman took an ISIS fighter off the board in northern Iraq with a shot that travelled more than 3.5 kilometres to hit its target — more than a kilometre better than the previous top shot. Source
  • Black off-duty St. Louis police officer shot by white officer

    World News CTV News
    St. Louis police say a black off-duty officer who heard a commotion near his home and tried to help fellow officers arrest three black suspects has been shot by a white officer who did not recognize him. Source
  • Footing the bill: Yukon willing to swap free trip for human toes

    Canada News CTV News
    Tourism Yukon has started a strange (but they insist, very real) search for donated human toes. The macabre contest comes after a brown, mummified toe served in a famous cocktail in Dawson City went missing. Source