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Cyclone Yasa: Extensive damage but less casualties

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Cyclone Yasa

(Cyclone Yasa) – Hurricane force winds and torrential rain have destroyed uncountable houses and flattened crops in Fiji’s northern regions. Aid agencies reported on Friday, though early assessments suggest only minimal casualties.

A drone image shows boats sheltering during a mangrove-lined channel earlier than Cyclone Yasa, near Port Denarau, Fiji December 16, 2020, during this still image obtained from a social media video.

Cyclone Yasa

The Storm

Cyclone Yasa, a top category five storm, made landfall over Bua province on the northern island of Vanua Levu on Thursday evening, bringing torrential rain, widespread flooding and winds of up to 285 km per hour (177 miles) across the archipelago.

Fiji had on Thursday declared a state of natural disaster, ordered its entire population of nearly 1 million people to hunt shelter and implemented a nightly curfew.

Humanitarian groups says it appears the initial impact of Cyclone Yasa is less than originally expected, though still extensive.

“Villages in Vanua Levu have lost plenty of homes. Fiji NGO Society Director-General Ilisapeci Rokotunidau told Reuters by phone that the wind affected many community buildings and crops,”.

“Reports show only one fatality so far.”

Images shared on social media showed roads blocked by landslides, floodwaters and fallen trees. All roads in Rakiraki, a part on the most island with about 30,000 residents, were flooded, Fiji’s Road Authority said.

Authorities remain concerned about heavy rains bought by Cyclone Yasa, though the storm has weakened in strength. Even if it is now just a category two because it moves south across the island chain.

Still, the adverse weather has hampered efforts by aid groups to dispatch assistance, with waves of over 3 metres (10 ft) preventing ships leaving Suva.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said with treacherous conditions, the country’s citizens must remain vigilant.

“#TeamFiji, we aren’t out of the woods yet, keep safe and cling to weather warnings!!” Bainimarama tweeted on Friday.

 

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