18 Mar 2010

Officials sent to Fiji's cyclone hit islands

9:29 am on 18 March 2010

Help is on the way for Fiji's outer islands most affected by Cyclone Tomas.

Three navy boats left Suva last night filled with emergency supplies for the Lomaiviti and Lau Groups and Cikobia island.

One of the boats will reach Vanua Levu at midday to pick up relief supplies before departing for a five hour journey to Cikobia island.

Fiji's northern commissioner for disaster management, Inia Seruiratu, says he is also sending a team of experts to Cikobia to stay overnight.

"We are sending a team made up of Telecom Fiji, we hope to restore communications on Cikobia, we are also sending agriculture people and also three officials from the Public Works department to assess the damage to buildings at the same access their water sources."

Inia Seruiratu says an aerial survey of Cikobia yesterday showed a lot of trees have turned brown because of sea water.

The other two navy vessels will arrive in the Lomaiviti and Lau Groups this morning.

The official death toll from the cyclone is still one.

Meanwhile, aircraft from New Zealand and Australia will be deployed again today for reconnaissance flights to assess the cyclone damage in Fiji.

A New Zealand Hercules flew over the affected islands yesterday, but low cloud cover affected visibility.

Ships with aid supplies have also been sent to the areas believed to have suffered the worst damage.

Air Force Squadron Leader, Kavae Tamariki, says the crew of the Hercules began to build up a picture of the situation, and it's hoped that can be finalised today.

There were pockets of destruction, various houses, their rooves missing in total, a couple of houses we saw that were destroyed so the weather was a little bit against us with the low cloud but

Kavae Tamariki, a Squadron Leader with the Air Force.