16 Apr 2004

Fiji to release disaster fund money for flood victims

4:32 pm on 16 April 2004

Fiji's prime minister says money from a government disaster relief fund of 1.6 million US dollar fund will be used to feed more than 1,500 people who have had to abandon their homes and seek shelter in evacuation centres.

Laisenia Qarase made the comment to Radio Legend after inspecting flood damage around Navua today on his way back from "talanoa" talks in Nadi.

Mr Qarase says the evacuation centres will continue to operate for several days.

He says people are good spirits and are taking things in their stride despite flood waters up to 2-metres deep covering the town and large areas around it yesterday.

Water is now receding and people are trying to remove debris and silt.

But police have expressed disappointment that some people who have arrived in the guise of helping in the clean-up are helping themselves to goods.

The Public Works Department is carrying emergency supplies of water to people who do not have a safe supply and Australia is giving water purification tablets sufficient to treat 200,000 litres.

In the Rewa delta and the Nausori, Tailevu and Naitasiri areas flood waters are still high and most roads closed.

More than 700 people are in emergency shelters as evacuation work continues.

The Red Cross, which has been supplying clothing, blankets and food in many stricken areas, today launched a cash only appeal to cope with the demands on its services.

The Australia and New Zealand government have promised funds to the Red Cross.

The Queen's Highway from Suva to Nadi is now open but the King's Highway around the east closed for the 9th day after it was blocked by 17 landslides on Thursday of last week.