On 13 January 2003, Cyclone Ami hit Fiji, destroyed homes and flooded parts of the South Pacific Archipelago with strong winds of up to 185 km/h (115mph). It affected Vanua Levu, the second largest island in Fiji, Taveuni, Rabi and other surrounding smaller islands. Labasa, the main city of Vanua Levu is under 10 feet of water. Two children are reported to be dead on the tiny island of Druadrua after Cyclone Ami destroyed the church in which they had been sheltering. Communications were completely cut in Vanua Levu, which has 200,000 residents - a quarter of Fiji's population. Telecom team cannot leave Suva until today to repair main communication aerial in Vanua Levu.
Red Cross/Red Crescent Action
Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) immediately sent a radio message through the Government radio station to Branch Presidents in Labasa, Seaqaqa, Bua and Savusavu in Vanua Levu and Taveuni to take precautionary measures, and kept in contact with Government District Officers, so that they can be ready to undertake assessment as soon as it was safe to do so. On 14 January FRCS, as a member of National Disaster Management Council (DISMAC), met Commander of Fiji Marine Forces, Permanent Secretaries of Government Depts and CEOs of Telecom, Fiji Electricity Authority to discuss the possible relief operation and the pending Cyclone impact.
FRCS has tarpaulins and sufficient black packs (which are a black plastic sheet which can be used for a manner of uses - groundsheet, shelter wrapped and secured around clothing for 2 adults and 2 children, bla nket, sheets, towels, candles, basic cooking utensils mosquito coil, matches) for 2,000 families and other disaster stock for distribution. FRCS intends to deploy their relief stock from branches in Viti Levu (main and largest island where capital Suva sit uated) to meet the needs of over total population over 200,000 on the three large islands of Vanua Levu, Tavenui and Rabi once the assessment result is made clear. FRCS have already commenced work of collecting stock in Vitilevu and brought it to Suva to send to the affected areas tomorrow 16 January 2003.
Currently, over 30 FRCS volunteers are working in Suva until midnight repacking stock to stack on to two 3-ton trucks to leave tomorrow on passenger/ vehicle ferry to Savusavu (on island of Vanua Levu). It will arrive 10 hours later. They had already organised this when they received a message from their colleague volunteers in the Branch who came back from Savusavu. They were working with their local District Officer, assessing cases and had already distributed 107 families with black packs and water containers. It was an SOS for more supplies, and Red Cross relief stock will arrive in Savusavu tomorrow as the first additional relief supply after the cyclone passed the island. For the packing and distribution of relief supplies, 30-40 Red Cross volunteers are working in each Branch in Savusavu, Bua, Seaqaqa, Labasa, and Taveuni.
Director General of FRCS will travel to Labasa to survey the damage on a domestic flight tomorrow. It is still unknown what part of Labasa and surrounding districts are accessible by road. She hopes to meet up with branch personnel and access their needs. It is evident that we need to replenish relief stock since the branch building and relief stock would have gone under 10 feet of water. FRCS President, Mr Sashi Singh has been invited on an aerial survey tomorrow morning.
The Federation regional delegation in Suva has released FJD 3,000 for the FRCS' relief activities from the regional DREF. Suva regional delegation and Secretariat Geneva have been in close contact with FRCS to monitor developments of this disaster relief.
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For further details please contact :
- Ms. Alison Cupit, Director General, The Fiji Red Cross Society in Suva; Phone 679 331 4133; Fax 679 330 3818; email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ms. Milja Heinonen, Acting Head of Regional Delegation in Suva, Phone 679 3311855; Fax 679 331 1406; email email@example.com
- Satoshi Sugai, Geneva-based Desk Officer, Phone 41 22 730 4273; Fax 41 22 733 0395; email firstname.lastname@example.org
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For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.
Asia and Pacific Department