7 Oct 2003

Fiji's drought worsens

8:16 am on 7 October 2003

Fiji's drought is worsening rapidly with rivers, creeks and wells drying up and people being forced to flee their homes in the wake of forest fires.

Over two thousand hectares of pineforests have been burnt, mostly as a result of arson attacks and spill overs from cane farm and village garden fires.

Residents living close to the fires are complaining of breathing difficulties after inhaling smoke.

Reports from many areas speak of vegetation drying up completely because of the extreme weather and livestock being in danger of dying.

Farmers say the creeks and wells they depend on for washing and drinking and watering their crops are all dry.

Small amounts of emergency water supplied by trucks in some parts has not reached remote rural areas.

Meanwhile, Fiji's health authorities are advising people to boil all drinking water to avoid an outbreak of diarrhoea and skin diseases.