Govt of Fiji: Cyclone Ami News Brief 15 Jan 2003

Two pre-school children on Druadrua Island, off Udu Point on the tip of Vanua Levu are missing, believed dead in a church flattened by Cyclone Ami. And Labasa Town was under six feet water and reeling from the torrential rain and strong winds that battered the capital of the Northern Division on late Monday and early Tuesday. Cyclone Ami caused extensive damage to the greater Savusavu area, leaving Saint Bedes College in a bad shape. Villages in Nayau had to take shelter in caves because of storm surge. Government declared the whole of Vanua Levu the Lau and Lomaiviti groups as natural disaster areas. (DP)

Domestic flights and inter-island vessels will resume services today. Sun Air and Air Fiji flights are expected to fly today with Air Pacific saying the same. All flights and vessels rushed for safety on Monday after the Nadi Weather Office said Cyclone Ami posed a direct threat to Fiji. The Bulou Ni Ceva was still anchored at Rotuma waiting for the seas to calm down before sailing. Beachcomber officials said their vessel, Adi Savusavu bound for Labasa to Savusavu and Lagilagi which sails from Lautoka to Savusavu, will begin services tomorrow. (DP)

Domestic economic conditions continue to remain positive supported by robust performances in most major sectors, the Reserve Bank of Fiji says. In its news review of December, 2002, the bank said the tourism industry continued to perform well, evident in the significant rise in visitor arrivals over last year to October. "Moreover, the optimistic outlook for building and construction is expected to provide additional stimulus to growth with ongoing projects expected to continue as well as the commencement of new projects this year," reported the bank. (DP)

The Northern Division suffered the full brunt of Cyclone Ami because weather radars at Nausori and Nadi are not capable of accurately detecting the correct location of a cyclone if it is approaches Vanua Levu from the North. And to make matters worse the radar at Nausori was out of order for 90 minutes because of a power failure. Serious questions are now being asked about what happened to the back-up diesel generator that was supposed to switch on automatically. (DP)

Labasa and Savusavu had no power yesterday as a result of damage to power lines caused by intensifying storm force winds in the area. Public relations officer Arieta Kumar said the authority's National Emergency Response Centre at Kinoya had informed them that the power supply in those areas would not be restored until after the worst of the cyclone had passed and declared safe for the FEA technicians to work on the damaged lines. "The authority is experiencing communication problems with its emergency response centres in Labasa and Savusavu. (DP)

Both Telecom and Vodafone services have been disrupted on the Northern and Eastern Divisions. And DISMAC headquarters faced huge challenges in trying to establish the extent of damage in those affected areas because of the disruption in the communications links. The chairman of the National Emergency Committee and the Regional Development Permanent Secretary, Mosese Sikivou, yesterday said DISMAC had not been able to assess the damage in those areas as yet. (DP)

Government yesterday declared a State of Emergency for the whole of Vanua Levu, Lau and Lomaiviti, the areas heavily hit by Cyclone Ami. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase yesterday expressed concern over the damage caused by the cyclone. He and Army Commander, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama paid an early morning visit to the DISMAC Office yesterday for a briefing on Cyclone Ami. Mr Qarase said he was waiting on reports on the extent of damage in the affected areas. He said relief and rehabilitation procedures were in place and would be activated as the need arose. (DP)

The army is looking at deploying some 130 3FIR soldiers to areas affected in the Northern and Eastern divisions by Cyclone Ami. Chairman of the National Emergency Committee, Mosese Sikivou yesterday confirmed the army was ready to provide assistance to the affected areas if the need arose. Mr Sikivou said the Military Commander had met with the National Emergency Committee and given word to them. (DP)

Weather conditions over the rest of Fiji are expected to gradually improve with fine weather spreading over most areas today, Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad says. Mr Prasad said Tropical Cyclone Ami was to have past Ono-i-Lau after striking it and moved South south-east at 22 knots (40km/hr) yesterday evening. (DP)

Rainfall experienced in the past few days has eased water supply problems faced by residents of a cane farming district in the West to some extent. The authorities yesterday said the rain brought by Cyclone Ami had brought some relief to residents of drought sticken areas in Rakiraki. According to reports, Rakiraki was the only district in the West to record more than 40 millimetres rainfall for the 24 hours ending yesterday morning. (FT)

Following on the heels of Cyclone Ami, the weather office is predicting four more cyclones to hit the country before the end of the cyclone season. Meteorology Department director Rakendra Prasad said according to analysis of the region's weather patterns, it was estimated that Fiji would see four more cyclones before the end of the season in April. (FT)

The National Disaster Management Centre in Suva is banking on assistance from the Australian Government to aid those affected by Cyclone Ami. Principal DISMAC officer Eliki Maloqai said there had been indications of assistance from the Australian High Commission and they were looking forward to assistance from other countries. (FT)

About 120 villagers in Natokalau on Kabara, Lau, need emergency water after their drinking water supply was contaminated by seawater. Tidal waves and strong winds destroyed six houses, four school rooms, four kitchens, a church and village store as Cyclone Ami swept through the village between 10am and 1.30pm yesterday. Telephone operator Vilimoni Vulaono described the tidal waves as higher than the houses, causing severe destruction in the village. (FT)

A survey of affected areas in the North will be conducted today to determine the extend of damage. Communication to the North was down yesterday after a satellite dish stationed at Delaikoro in Labasa twisted from the wind's force. (FT)

The former Leader of the Opposition, Justice Jai Ram Reddy is Fiji's nominee for Permanent Judge to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). His appointment was formalised by cabinet on Monday at Nadi after a presentation made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Kaliopate Tavola. (FS)


News Briefs are published daily (week days) by the Ministry of Information and summarize the main issues appearing in the media. The Ministry will not be responsible to any person or party who relies on the brief for any inaccuracies or omissions.

[FT - Fiji Times, SF - Sun Fiji, DP - Daily Post, ST - Sunday Times, SP - Sunday Post, SS - Sunday Sun, FBCL - Fiji Broadcasting Commission Ltd, CFL - Communications Fiji Ltd and MOI - Ministry of Information.]


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