2 Apr 2012

Fiji floods claim fourth life

10:25 am on 2 April 2012

Flooding in Fiji has claimed another life, taking the death toll to four.

The country has been ravaged by more heavy rain overnight, and worse is still to come, with the Meteorological service warning the weather system is likely to be upgraded to a tropical cyclone later today.

Water and power is disrupted, many roads are closed, and nearly 5000 people have been forced to shelter in evacuation centres.

The interim government has already declared a state of natural disaster, and travel has been severely curtailed.

Air Pacific has cancelled all its Fiji bound flights for today, while Air New Zealand is only flying empty planes up, to bring stranded tourists out.

A forecaster for Fiji's Metservice,Terry Atalifo, says early this morning the system was over Vanuatu, about 1,000 kilometres west of Nadi, and is moving Southeast at about 25 kilometres per hour.

He says on that track, it is likely to brush past the Southwest outskirts of the Fiji group, but will still bring gale strength winds and heavy rain.

A gale warning and severe flood warning remain in place for much of Fiji.

Warnings are also in place for parts of Vanuatu, with its metservice saying damaging gale force winds of 70 kilometres per hour will continue to affect Southern Penama, Malampa, Shefa and extending to Tafea province.

It says very rough seas with heavy swells are expected over northern and central waters

of Vanuatu, and heavy rainfall and flooding is expected.

All schools in the Western Division will remain closed until Thursday.

FBC reports the Permanent Secretary Dr. Brij Lal saying for schools in the Central division, parents should make the decision to send children to school based on the weather.

And the Rewa river has passed the critical level and is now 4.62 meters.