Fiji cyclone toll rises to 29

Suva: The death toll from Fiji’s super-cyclone hit 29 yesterday, with officials saying the Pacific nation’s recovery from the devastating storm could take months. As aid efforts intensified, communications were established with some of the worst-hit remote communities, revealing the scale of the disaster.

A tree fell on a house when the cyclone hit Namosau, Fiji. Pic/AFP
A tree fell on a house when the cyclone hit Namosau, Fiji. Pic/AFP

“The official death toll now is 29, another eight bodies were found on the island of Koro since Monday,” government spokesman Ewan Perrin said. “We are expecting it to rise but we’re hoping it’s going to rise by a very small number.”

Severe tropical cyclone Winston, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the southern hemisphere, lashed the island nation overnight on Saturday, packing wind gusts of 325 kilometres per hour and leaving a trail of destruction.

About 8,500 people are still sheltering in evacuation centres. “In some places people are going to be displaced for months as they’ve lost everything,” he said. The rising toll makes Winston the deadliest cyclone to ever hit Fiji, according to the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, which said the previous worst was cyclone Eric in 1993.

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