Fiji

Fourteen confirmed deaths and nine still missing following cyclone Ami

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On Fiji fourteen people are confirmed dead and nine are still missing after the most powerful cyclone to hit the tiny Islands in the South Pacific since 1987 swept across large parts of the north and east of the country ten days ago, says Australian Red Cross.
To assist Fiji Red Cross (FRCS) in the coordination of the relief effort, Mr David Overlack, an Australian Red Cross delegate, has been dispatched to Fiji on a two-month humanitarian mission. No stranger to disaster and conflict, Mr Overlack is one of just two hundred worldwide delegates who have been FACT (Field Assessment and Coordination Team) trained by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) to respond when disaster strikes, anywhere in the world.

Although Cyclone Ami was weaker than Cyclone Zoe that affected residents of the Solomon Islands earlier this month, it is feared that the impact upon the human population has been greater because almost 200,000 people were living in the path of the Fiji cyclone. Apart from damage to houses and buildings, telephone and radio communications, electricity, water and sewerage supplies were also severely affected.

FRCS is providing a leading response to the cyclone and is receiving financial support from AusAID, but as Nathan Rabe, International Operations Manager for Australian Red Cross explains, Mr Overlack is a skilled and component delegate whose FACT training will prove invaluable to FRCS, 'Mr Overlack is one of our most experienced delegates. His disaster management training will enable him to assist FRCS to meet the immediate needs of the communities most affected by Cyclone Ami.'

Mr Overlack's tasks in Fiji also include working with local staff and volunteers of the FRCS engaged in relief operations, supporting logistical arrangements and distribution of supplies to identified communities, offering ongoing support and guidance to the affected populations and assisting in communication and preparation of reports to AusAID.

David Overlack, a thirty-six year old nurse, has worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for over four years. During 1998-1999 and 2001-2002 his experience as a nurse proved invaluable when he worked overseas as a delegate in war torn Afghanistan. Australian Red Cross called on David's expertise again in 2000 when he was posted to Sierra Leone as an operating theatre nurse for a period of twelve months. In 1999 he undertook a short mission in Vanuatu as a health delegate with the Federation.

Mr Overlack is an Operating Theatre Nurse and lives in Brisbane.

AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW

Mr David Overlack, Australian Red Cross Delegate

FOR MEDIA INFORMATION ONLY

Mr Ian Woolverton, Media Adviser - International Programs, Australian Red Cross, Telephone +61 3 9345 1868, Mobile + 61 418 526 850

Ian Woolverton, Media Adviser, International Programs, Australian Red Cross 155 Pelham Street Melbourne, Victoria 3053 ++ 61 3 9345 1868 ++ 61 3 9348 2513 www.redcross.org.au