Fiji + 3 more

NZ assists cyclone hit families

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Hon Marian Hobbs

The government aid agency, NZAID has so far provided more than $150,000 for the Fiji and Solomon Islands relief effort following Cyclone Ami and Cyclone Zoe, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Aid Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

New Zealand relief supplies in Fiji have helped meet the needs of more than 300 families on the cyclone-damaged island of Cicia in Fiji's Lau group. Assistance included 135 tarpaulins and 235 water containers plus the cost of transporting them.

"From a damage assessment of Cicia it's clear the effects of Cyclone Ami will be felt for some time," the ministers said. " Fifty per cent of all buildings have been damaged including 30 per cent completely or almost destroyed.

"It's estimated that 75 per cent of tree crops have been damaged and 10 per cent of root crops.The absence of cash crops will affect residents' ability to meet their day-to-day running costs such as paying school fees or buying diesel."

In the Solomon Islands NZAID provided $100,000 in transport assistance after Tikopia Island was hit by Cyclone Zoe.

"The immediate relief phase has finished and the focus is now on the recovery effort, collecting and delivering materials to rebuild houses on Tikopia," the ministers said.

In addition to direct financial assistance the ministers also noted that RNZAF had undertaken a further two surveillance flights this week to assess damage following Cyclone Ami. An RNZAF NORPAT flight flew over two southern Tuvalu islands, Nuilakita and Nukulaelae, and an RNZAF P3 Orion flew over the Rennell and Bellona Islands in the southern Solomon Islands. Aerial photographs indicated that the islands in both Tuvalu and the Solomons had emerged from the cyclone relatively unscathed.

New Zealand authorities are currently monitoring Tropical Cyclone Beni very closely as it tracks between New Caledonia and Vanuatu.