7 Mar 2005

Fiji disaster authorities say squatters contributed to the damage they suffered in last week's flood

11:11 am on 7 March 2005

Fiji's disaster authorities are blaming squatters for the damage they suffered in landslides and floods during three days of heavy rain late last week.

Many homes were buried or badly damaged in landslides while others were swept away leaving victims without shelter, food, clothing and cooking utensils.

But the director of disaster management, Joeli Rokovada, has told the Fiji Times the squatters are to be blamed for the damage because most of them live in places that are prone to floods and other disasters.

Mr Rokovada says these houses are in places of high risk and cannot withstand the forces of nature.

Mr Rokovada says there is a greater need for proper city and town planning to address problems which could lead to even greater disasters.

But the Red Cross disaster manager, Vuli Gauna, says these people have no choice but to build their houses in these areas

One of the landslide victims, Roshan Ali, is quoted as saying the Red Cross is the only organisation helping them while the government is blaming them for what they have suffered.