26 Feb 2016

Nearly 60,000 in evacuation centres in Fiji

4:23 pm on 26 February 2016

Fiji has updated the number of people forced into evacuation centres by Cyclone Winston to 59,000 - more than 6 percent of the population.

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A large number of homes and other buildings have been wrecked across the country. Photo: AFP

Spokesperson Ewan Perrin said that number continued to rise as communication was restored to affected areas.

Read reports from RNZI reporter Alex Perrottet in Fiji

Mr Perrin said, at this stage, there was enough aid in the evacuation centres to go around.

"We've got sufficient essential resources - food, water, medical resources at the moment. We have been very fortunate, the international community has provided a lot of aid and assistance, a lot of materials for us as well.

"So we are able to top those up as we need. We just need to keep an eye on that and see how it goes over the next few days."

Mr Perrin said 100 of the 850 evacuation centres were schools.

He said the government was working to relocate those being housed in schools to churches and community halls, so children could return to school within the next two weeks.

"We're having a look at each one on a case by case basis. What we will be doing is, where possible, obviously we will recover the schools to be used as schools.

"In some cases we may move students to share classrooms in other schools as well. So we are just looking at everything on a case by case basis."

The death toll remained at 42, with two people missing.

Mr Perrin said 33 people had been hospitalised with injuries, and 146 other people were injured but did not need hospitalisation.

He said the government had still not been able to reach some areas of Fiji's main island Viti Levu because of landslides, flooding and roads blocked off with trees.

That included some villages south of Rakiraki, he said.

But he said it had been in communication with all outer islands, including Vanuabalavu, which suffered wide-scale destruction, and aid had reached, or was on its way, to all areas.

"There's only a few areas now that are inaccesible, but all of the outer islands I think now we have had visual surveys over all of them, and we have been deploying either food drops or having various ships out to some of those islands now," he said.

Meanwhile, an NGO in Fiji said people in Bua province on the western end of Vanua Levu urgently needed chainsaws and other tools to begin rebuilding their villages following Cyclone Winston.

The Kubulau Resource Management Committee says the villages of Waisa, Natokalau and Nasasaivua were still inaccesible because of trees blocking the roads.

A spokesperson Peni Were said restoration work had begun in some villages while others waited for government relief supplies.

He said some communities only had rain water and food rations that will only last for another two days.