15 Dec 2009

Two people presumed dead after cyclone rips across Fiji

8:14 am on 15 December 2009

Two people are presumed dead in Fiji after the first category of the season ripped across the islands.

Cyclone Mick hit the popular tourist destinations of the Yasawa and Mamanuca islands yesterday, before tracking across Viti Levu, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds.

Vuli Guana of the Red Cross in Fiji says the worst hit area seems to be the main island of Viti Levu and surrounding islands.

"Some recorded destruction of households, there are some reports also of people staying in evacuation centres. In terms of infrastructural damage there are still places that are still inaccessible because of flooded roads and blocked roads because of landslides and fallen power lines and trees."

Vuli Guana says the Red Cross and Fijian authorities are out assessing the extent of the damage now.

Meanwhile, a tourist resort in the Yasawa Island group says it has been forced to close and take its guests back to the mainland because of extensive damage caused by Cyclone Mick.

Verity Wilson, a staff member at the Octopus Resort, says about 60 guests were forced to take refuge in the resort's cyclone shelter.

She says while there are no reports of any injuries, a couple had a lucky escape from their yacht after it crashed onto rocks.

Ms Wilson says palm trees have been completely stripped of their fronds and tin roofs lifted off many of the resort's buildings.

The resort will be closed for at least five days while staff clean up.