18 Dec 2012

Aid workers in Fiji out this morning to assess damage from Evan

5:30 am on 18 December 2012

Aid workers are expecting the damage caused from Cyclone Evan will be felt across the whole of Fiji, and are hoping to reach the most vulnerable people first.

Teams will be out this morning to check the full extent of the damage and where they need to be focusing their efforts.

The Red Cross says it sent workers home last night because it was too dangerous for them to check the damage while wind speeds were more than 200 kilometres per hour.

The Director General, who is based in Suva, Filipe Nainoca, expects the cyclone has left a huge trail of devastation and that resources will be stretched.

"This impact of this cyclone will be huge will be big. At the moment we can not quantify the areas that are impacted will cover the whole of Fiji."

Filipe Nainoca says there are reports of flooding and damage to buildings and many people will need shelter.

The director of Fiji's National Disaster Management Office, Manasa Tagicakabau, says a number of houses in the Western Division have lost their rooves.

Reports we are getting now are that the rooves of houses have been blown off and the township of Rakiraki is flooded and power is out due to broken power lines because of fallen trees, mostly it's the roof of houses.

And the Fiji metservice tropical cyclone Evan is now slowly moving away from the Fiji group.

It says the hurricane warning and storm warning for certain places in the country has now been lifted.

But it says a gale warning is still in force for the coral coast Kadavu, Beqa and nearby small islands, and a strong wind warning still remains in force for the rest of Fiji.

The duty forecaster, Terry Ataiofo, says early this morning Evan was located west south west of Kadavu, an island to the south of the Fiji group.

And it is currently moving about southwestwards at about nine knots, so this severe tropical cyclone is moving away from the Fiji group.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs says a six-year political standoff between New Zealand and the military government in Fiji won't affect the help this country provides in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Evan.

Thousands of people in Fiji have spent the night in evacuation centres, waiting out the storm.

The Minister, Murray McCully, says the New Zealand government will provide cash and logistical support, when it is needed.

The damage looks like it's going to go closer to Nadi then was originally thought, it's always the sign it could be more damage to deal with subsequently, but we will wait and see, so we have made the offer in advance, we will keep in contact and whatever the political differences there might be will not affect the help we will provide.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully.