Fiji: Update on Cyclone Ami

Report
from Australian Council for Overseas Aid
Published on 14 Jan 2003
Cyclone Ami is now travelling at 40 km/hr and is about to exit the Southern Lau Group and Fiji Territory in the next 6-10 hours.
A HURRICANE WARNING is now in force for Ono-I-Lau and nearby smaller islands.

A STORM WARNING remains in force for Vatoa, Fulaga, Moce, Namuka-I-Lau, Kabara and neaby smaller islands.

A GALE WARNING remains in force for rest of the islands in the southern Lau Group.

There is widespread damage being reported to crops and bush material and wooden structures throughout Vanua Levu. However communications are down in most places.

The Government had opened more than 30 evacuation centres across Vanua Levu and Taveuni yesterday, and these were used throughout the night. However on the smaller outlying islands in the Northeast of Vanua Levu where the centre of the storm crossed, damage seems to have been severe. Police report a wooden church in Drua Drua Island where people were sheltering apparently collapsed killing 2 children and injuring others.

Areas of maximum impact will have been Cikobia, North Eastern Vanua Levu from Labasa northeastward. This includes all outlying islands to the north such as Drua Drua and Tilagica. Next the centre crossed over Rabi and Northern Taveuni bringing serious damage to the East Peninsula of Vanua Levu and all of Rabi and Taveuni. After that the Northern and Southern Lau Group and Eastern Parts of the Yasayasamoala Group would also have experienced serious damage and are still experiencing it in the south. Areas adjacent to these would also have some but less severe damage.

Assessment Issues: The territory impacted is quite a large and remote area and involves literally hundreds of populated islands and islets, so the initial damage assessment is likely to be very difficult especially with communications now out in so many areas. Telephones in the capital Suva are also out although mobile phones have continued to operate. Communications will continue to be difficult for some time especially for isolated areas of Eastern Vanua Levu, Taveuni and the Lau Group

Tonga must now play a waiting game although Northern and Central Island Groups are now unlikely to be impacted. Tongatapu and Eua should particularly monitor the situation carefully as the Cyclone continues to hold together and could pass close to the these islands probably to the southwest and south.