17 Apr 2004

Fiji seeks NZ helicopters to deliver food to outer islands

9:38 am on 17 April 2004

The Fiji government has asked New Zealand for the use of helicopters to transport emergency food rations to outer islands.

Fiji TV says the request follows widespread devestation in the islands of the Lomaiviti Group and Northern Lau during the first round of storms and flooding ten days ago.

These islands lie between the two main islands of Viti Levu andVanua Levu.

They suffered extensive damage to traditional food crops which can still be used but are expected to run out in two weeks.

Meanwhile, on Viti Levu, many roads and bridges in the Rewa delta and the Tailevu and Naitasiri provinces are still under water and closed to all traffic.

But the Queens Highway linking Suva to Nadi is now open.

Meanwhile 40 kilometres west of Suva, the town of Navua and surrounding areas is covered with silt and debris after being flooded with 2 metres of water.

Fiji's prime minister says money from a government disaster relief fund of 1 point 6 million US dollars will be used to feed more than 15 hundred people who have had to abandon their homes and seek shelter in evacutaion centres.

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

Power, water and electricity services remain cut off.