Two dead, entire villages destroyed after ‘ferocious’ Cyclone Yasa smashes Fiji

18:05, Dec 18 2020 .-. Nicole said this latest natural disaster shows the “harsh consequences” of climate inaction. “It’s past time for world leaders to step up their commitments in this climate emergency.”

At least two people have been killed and entire villages reportedly destroyed after Tropical Cyclone Yasa smashed through Fiji overnight.

One man is reported to have died when he was crushed under a wall of his house. Fijian Broadcasting Corporation reported the 46-year-old farmer, his wife and two sons were sheltering in their house near Labasa – the largest town on the island of Vanua Levu – when the building collapsed.

The man’s eldest son was also trapped under the wall and was injured.

Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), confirmed the fatalities were in the Western and Northern Divisions, The Fiji Times reported.

READ MORE:
* Cyclone Yasa: Fiji’s Vanua Levu pummelled overnight
* Cyclone Yasa: Category 5 cyclone hits Fiji causing landslides, flooding, 345kmh gusts, and 14-metre swells
* Cyclone Yasa: Fijians hunker down from category five storm
* Monster Tropical Cyclone Harold continues to wreak havoc in Vanuatu
* Cyclone Winston: Storm slams Fiji, one confirmed dead

The category 5 cyclone made landfall in Bua on the island of Vanua Levu at 6pm Thursday (7pm Thursday NZT), a state of natural disaster was declared and a curfew put in place overnight.Post by Fiji NDMO.

The NDMO has imposed another curfew from 5pm Friday through to 6am Saturday for Vanua Levu, and from 8pm Friday to 5am Saturday for the rest of the country. Covid-19 curfews – from 11pm to 4am – will return after that.

Cyclone Yasa left destruction in its wake at Daku Primary School.
Adi Wong/SuppliedCyclone Yasa left destruction in its wake at Daku Primary School.

The centre of the cyclone moved over Vanua Levu Thursday evening and overnight. By 7am Friday, Fiji Meteorological Service had downgraded it to a category 4 event, and by 10am to category 3.

More than 850,000 people, or more than 95 per cent of the country’s population, were in the direct path of the cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Yasa brings flooding and winds to the Bua Province.
FIJI GOVERNMENT/FACEBOOKTropical Cyclone Yasa brings flooding and winds to the Bua Province.

The full extent of damage is yet to be known, but NDMO’s Soko said the damage is likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars worth.

“We will continue to assess the scale of damage in the coming days.”

Save the Children Fiji chief executive Shairana Ali​ said entire villages in the north have reportedly been destroyed.

#CycloneYasa will make landfall as a category 5 in Bua, Vanua Levu, in the next several hours.

Destructive impacts are expected.

Stay safe 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ku4oS4U6Y3— Island Climate Update (@ICU_NIWA) December 17, 2020

“There are collapsed buildings, trees snapped in half and debris strewn all over the ground. Schools have been damaged and roofs blown away.

“We’re particularly worried about how the cyclone affected those in the country’s north, and especially communities of the more isolated islands and flood-prone areas,” Ali said.

On Friday, Unicef Pacific chief of communication Cate Heinrich said reports were coming in of extensive damage to buildings and crops.

Daku Primary School in Fiji was badly damaged by Tropical Cyclone Yasa.
Adi Wong/SuppliedDaku Primary School in Fiji was badly damaged by Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

Pictures being posted on social media were showing “huge destruction” across Vanua Levu, but it was too early to have a full assessment of the extent of the damage.

She was based on the island of Viti Levu in the capital Suva, which was not as badly affected, but there were still electricity outages and water was off in many areas.

Some of Heinrich’s colleagues had so far been unable to contact family members on Vanua Levu.

The effects and intensity of #TCYasa on Transinsular Road at Lomaloma in the Northern Division.

Please stay safe. #TeamFRA pic.twitter.com/khsrhM3RA9— Fiji Roads Authority (@FijiRoads) December 17, 2020

The Fiji Times said 20 homes and the community hall at Tiliva village in Bua province, at the western end of Vanua Levu, were totally destroyed by the cyclone.

“It’s a nightmare,” Labasa resident Banuve Lasaqua Lusi told RNZ.

She said a number of houses in her area had been flattened with residents escaping with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing, or seeking shelter under beds.

In the village of Nasavu, in Bua, six houses were destroyed by strong winds on Thursday evening. Evacuees in a school building in the town had to move to another block after the roof of their refuge blew off, the times reported.

The damage at Daku Primary School.
Adi Wong/SuppliedThe damage at Daku Primary School.

In the days leading up to the cyclone making landfall, people were advised to seek shelter in evacuation centres, and those on the coast were told to move to higher ground. Thousands of people gathered in evacuation centres around the country.

NDMO’s Soko told reporters the cyclone hit with wind gusts of up to 345 kilometres per hour.

The “ferocious” cyclone would have been extremely frightening for children, Ali said. “Supporting [children’s] wellbeing will also need to be an important part of any humanitarian response.”Post by Fiji Police Force.

Unicef is on standby to provide support to the government. “We will work with the government, civil society and other partners to provide clean water, and emergency health and education supplies for children in affected communities,” said Pacific representative Sheldon Yett.

Recovery packs with water, sanitation and hygiene items, buckets, medical supplies and basic medication are ready to be distributed. More supplies are on standby and ready to be sent from Brisbane, Australia, if need be.

Oxfam is also poised and ready to distribute essential items – including soap and water purification tablets – to communities in need.

Buildings were ruined in the Qalitu District in Savusavu's Vunivesi Village.
Adi Wong/SuppliedBuildings were ruined in the Qalitu District in Savusavu’s Vunivesi Village.

Oxfam’s Pacific regional director Raijeli Nicole​ was worried about the damage in coastal communities that remain vulnerable to flooding and coastal inundation.

“We are extremely concerned about the potential for a second disaster within a disaster. Without assistance, people will be at risk of waterborne infections.”

Cyclone Yasa was the second category 5 cyclone to hit Fiji’s main population centres this year, after Cyclone Harold that formed in April.

Nicole said this latest natural disaster shows the “harsh consequences” of climate inaction. “It’s past time for world leaders to step up their commitments in this climate emergency.”

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