The Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is pleading with the public to stay home as work gets under way to restore critical infrastructure, with cyclone Mal moving away from the Fiji Group.
The office said it had received reports of fallen power lines and trees. A video shared by NDMO on its social media channels showed a power line with a heavy branch on top sparking.
PLEASE STAY HOME‼️— Fiji NDMO (@FijiNDMO) November 14, 2023
The @FijiNDMO pleads with the public to REFRAIN from making any UNNECESSARY MOVEMENT from now onwards as the relevant authorities rush restore critical infrastructure damaged by TC Mal as shown in the video ⬇️
Live fallen power line at Verata Road,Tailevu. pic.twitter.com/OCkQozx6LL
Fiji Roads Authority said contractors were also removing debris blocking roads on the main island Viti Levu.
At 10.39am local time on Wednesday, severe tropical cyclone Mal was 180km west-southwest of Kadavu island local time, moving in a east-southeast direction away from the Fiji Group at 27km/h.
The weather office said damaging winds and cyclone impacts could begin several hours prior to the cyclone centre passing over or nearby. "Thus, secure your homes and properties and know your evacuation centres."
Fiji's Metservice said winds had eased over the Yasawa islands but gusty conditions were still being experienced in western Viti Levu.
Mal is still a category 3 cyclone but was expected to be downgraded to category 2 on Wednesday afternoon or early evening.
Forecaster Samisoni Waqavakatoga said people in Nadi should be able to leave their homes later today (Wednesday) as the cyclone continued its path away from the Fiji Group and weakened.
"Probably around midday today, that's when the gale force winds are expected to clear Nadi," he said.
"But the rest of the Fiji Group, those islands to the south in Viti Levu, should be clear of gale force winds later today."
"[Mal] will stay in open seas and will rapidly weaken."
He said some areas in Viti Levu recorded more than 20mm of rain between 3am to 4am.
Waqavakatoga said gale to storm force winds were forecast in the western division, with average wind speeds of 65km/h to 111km/h and gusts reaching 157km/h.
Gusts closer to the centre of the cyclone, which stayed out at sea, were about 170km/h.
A flash flood warning remained for flash flood-prone areas, small streams, and low-lying regions in Viti Levu, while flash flood alert continued for flash flood-prone areas in Bua and Cakaudrove provinces in Vanua Levu.
Fijian authorities said this could lead to flooding of roads, river crossings, and bridges in low-lying areas and floodplains.
"Authorities are actively addressing critical infrastructure damage caused by TC Mal," the government said.
#FijiNews | Lautoka City is in the midst of a rapid clean up in the wake of TC Mal. The market is closed, bus stand empty and not much movement of people or vehicles. Video report by SITERI SAUVAKACOLO and REINAL CHAND pic.twitter.com/oLSg0LVGVD— The Fiji Times (@fijitimes) November 14, 2023