A record breaking storm is leaving a trail of destruction in Fiji. Cyclone Winston has killed at least six people and caused widespread damage.
The most powerful storm recorded in the Southern Hemisphere has slammed into the islands, flattening villages and displacing populations.
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Cyclone Winston bombarded the former British colony with 200mph winds on Saturday, destroying more than 150 houses in its Eastern region, which consists of Kadavu Province, Lau Province, Lomaiviti Province and Rotuma, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Homes have been destroyed, many low-lying areas have flooded,” Voreqe Bainimarama, the Fijian Prime Minister, said in a statement.
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“In the aftermath of this great tragedy, many are without power and full access to water, and are cut off from communication.” “This is a time of sorrow, but it will also be a time of action. We will stand united in the face of this disaster,” he added.
Cyclone Winston, the first category five storm to hit the Pacific nation, has crippled power lines and forced the government to extend its curfew to Monday morning.
It was understood to have killed six people by Sunday evening. Officials said that figure was expected to rise.
Around 80 per cent of the country’s population have been left without power and all schools have been closed until further notice, as many are being used as evacuation centres.
Aid workers admitted on Sunday they had no idea of the full extent of the havoc wreaked by the cyclone, which toppled trees, flooded streets and destroyed metal sign posts.
Save the Children Fiji chief Iris Low-McKenzie said it was too early to assess the full extent of the damage, though the number of houses destroyed is reportedly in the thousands.
“I’m especially concerned about the remote communities in outlying areas that we haven’t been able to contact yet,” she said.
“Until communications are re-established and we assess the damage, we won’t know the full extent of the situation.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this. The noise was frightening as roofs were blown off homes and trees were ripped out by their roots.”
According to the Fiji Broadcasting Company, more than 1,000 people have retreated to evacuee centres on the second-largest island of Vanua Levu.
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