Fiji Declares State of Natural Disaster as Powerful Cyclone Hits

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Fiji Roads Authority/via REUTERS

On Thursday, the entire population of Fiji was ordered to take shelter as a reaction to what expected to be the worst cyclone in recorded history. 

Cyclone Yasa, a top category five storm capable of winds up to 250 km per hour (155 miles per hour) and torrential rain, made landfall over Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu at about 6 p.m. local time (0600 GMT).

“The impact for this super storm is more or less the entire country,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama states in a video posted on Facebook, where he ordered the population of Fiji numbering up to 1 million to find shelter ahead of a 14-hour curfew, beginning at 4 p.m. 

The 2016 Cyclone Winston would be “easiliy surpassed” by Yasa, he continues, in reference to the past most intense tropical storm on record that had a death toll of more than 40 Fijians, while also leaving thousands of people homeless. 

Bainimamara states, more than 90% of the population inhabit the storm’s predicted path, weather forecasts also anticipate flash floods and waves up to 10 meters (33ft) high. 

on the main island with about 30,000 residents, were flooded, according to local media.
Social media has numerous images posted by residents where flash floods, road blocks due to landslides and fallen trees. Blocked roads litter Rariraki, a coastal town in Fiji’s Ra Province which has about 30,000 residents .

The curfew will stand for 30 days, as a result of a declaration of state of natural disaster.
Those deemed most at risk has said that the warnings are being followed.

“The power is off, we don’t know about anybody, the winds are quite strong, but we are okay for the time being,” said a hotel worker in Bua who chose to remain anonymous.

“When daylight comes, then we’ll know what damage has been done,” he further adds. 

The running of public transport was banned by the government, as a result of taking precaution by taking around 50 yachts moored in the southern part of the island country. 

“The boats have been moved to mangrove shelter, which provide good protection against the winds,” Cynthia Rasch, the chief executive officer of Port Denarau Marina says. During October, the country reopened to foreign boats as a bid to revive the tourism industry that was most affected by the coronavirus.