24 Feb 2016

Fiji PM says country in hour of need after Winston

12:31 am on 24 February 2016

The scale of destruction in Fiji after Cyclone Winston is huge and it is in its "hour of need", the country's prime minister says.

Destruction on Yacata island following Cyclone Winston

Destruction on Yacata Island following Cyclone Winston on Saturday. Photo: SUPPLIED

The death toll from Saturday's category five cyclone stood at 29 on Tuesday, with more than 13,000 people believed to be sheltering in evacuation centres.

With assessment teams still working to reach badly-hit outer islands, that number was likely to grow - with surveillance flights already revealing a grim picture of vast devastation.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama speaking to disciplined forces in January 2016

Frank Bainimarama Photo: Supplied

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said relief teams, including the military, had been deployed across the country to provide assistance and relief supplies.

However, he said the country's needs were huge and a massive response was needed.

"Almost no part of our nation has been left unscarred and many of our rural and maritime areas bore the brunt of Winston's fury," Mr Bainimarama told a news conference in Suva, the capital.

"The recovery process will take time, perhaps a long time ... but we are working around the clock to address the needs of our people."

Mr Bainimarama said the recovery would be a long process but some progress had been made, with phone services gradually being restored and most resorts apparently relatively unscathed.

"We have identified downed power lines and have begun repairing our fallen towers, power has been restored to some areas, but in others, including our western division, damage to our power network is extensive, and repairs could take considerable time," he said.

"Our international airlines have resumed service [and] our tourism industry has weathered the storm."

Mr Bainimarama said a co-ordinated response was needed, and urged international NGOs to work with authorities to avoid waste and duplication.

During Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu last year, disaster authorities there expressed frustration with the approach taken by NGOs in distributing relief supplies.

Lovu settlement near Lautoka, on Viti Levu.

Floodwaters surround the settlement of Lovu near Lautoka, on Viti Levu. Photo: RNZ / Alex Perrottet

New Zealand aid arrives in Fiji

New Zealand aid arrives in Fiji. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZDF

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