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Cyclone Yasa leaves trail of destruction in parts of Fiji

A powerful cyclone that tore through Fiji late last week has caused havoc in some areas and left people without shelter and freshwater, Fiji Red Cross said on Sunday, December 20, 2020.

Fiji Cyclone
Niumaia Yalewa 49, his wife Esita 30 and their 6-year-old daughter 6 return to their house, completely destroyed by Cyclone Yasa, northern Bua, Vanua Levu, Fiji, December 19, 2020. Photo credit: IFRC/via Reuters

The death toll from Cyclone Yasa, a top category-five storm that made landfall on Thursday, rose to four, authorities said.

The aerial assessment showed that Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu suffered 70 per cent damage and destruction while the small island of Kia was completely destroyed, Fiji Red Cross Director-General, Ilisapeci Rokotunidau, said.

“It’s like a ground zero, there’s nothing left,’’ Rokotunidau told Reuters.

While the largest island of Viti Levu – where about three-quarters of Fijians live – was spared the worst, Vanua Levu and other small islands were in dire need of fresh water and shelter.

Disrupted communications and poor weather were hampering the damage assessment effort but Red Cross volunteers were assisting those in need, Rokotunidau said.

There were concerns about the spread of diseases.

Australia is sending air force aircraft to help with surveillance of storm-affected areas and has offered further assistance to Fiji if needed.

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