28 Oct 2019

Fiji's Kadavu Island villagers fearful post-quake

10:51 am on 28 October 2019

People on Fiji's Kadavu Island say they are living in fear since a magnitude 5.1 quake hit the country last Sunday.

Mt Washington, also known as Mt Nabukelevu, on Kadavu Island.

Mt Washington, also known as Mt Nabukelevu, on Kadavu Island. Photo: Google Maps

Disaster authorities have warned villagers living around Mt Washington to avoid the volcano, also known as Mt Nabukelevu.

Ioape Lutumailagi, of Qalira Village, said they could still feel the tremors five days on.

The 62-year-old said his family was having breakfast when the earthquake hit.

"By the time I felt the tremor, I couldn't continue eating. It felt like travelling on a boat from Suva to Kadavu and the big waves hitting the boat. I have been staying in the village for almost a week and I'm still shaking."

Mr Lutumailagi said people had adhered to the advisory to avoid diving and fishing.

This was the second time he had experienced an earthquake and it was more frightening this time, he said.

He had told his family to remain in the village, but Mr Lutumailagi said they were yet to see anyone from Fiji's Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

NDMO had been issuing warnings urging the islanders not to go diving, fishing or near Mr Washington, he said.

"Our plantations are near the mountain and we rely on the sea for our livelihood," he said. "We also want the NDMO to come because our children are not attending school.

"Our children need to be at school so we need to know if it is safe now to send them to school."

More than 10,000 people live on Kadavu.

The villagers also feared a tsunami would follow the earthquake, Mr Lutumailagi said.

"We don't know for sure because no one is telling us anything," he said.

"This could be worse than the earthquake. The waves could come like the tsunami. We don't know what to do this time and we are just staying in the village."

An NDMO officer said they could not comment because all media releases had been issued by director Litiana Bainimarama.

She could not be reached for comment.