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Fiji braces for another week of rain

Published: 10:25AM Monday January 30, 2012 Source: Fairfax

Fiji is facing more severe weather as the damage caused by last week's deadly floods is estimated to cost about $20 million.

A flash flood warning was in place for low lying areas in Fiji, including Vanualevu, Taveuni and Northern Lau group, the Fiji Village reported.

Forecasters said a trough of low pressure with association cloud and rain was moving slowly over the northern parts of the country, and the wet weather was set to continue for the whole week.

The latest forecast followed last week's floods, which left six people dead, and villages, settlements and suburbs in Fiji's western district under water.

A state of national disaster was declared in the urban areas of Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Sigatoka and Rakiraki.

Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki has pegged the estimated cost of the damage to $20m, Fiji Times reported.

Health officials have said they have lost more than $151,000 in property, and needed about $103,000 for the clean-up campaign and to contain any disease outbreak.

Officials warned of a possible outbreak of water-borne diseases. In an attempt to tackle the problem, they have removed more than 15 tonnes of food items from more than 200 shops over the past three days.

"There are lot of crude business people who like to sell contaminated food items. Our major task was to visit all shops affected by the floods. And there was massive contamination of food items which were removed from the shelves," divisional health inspector western, Dip Chand, said.

Shopkeepers found selling damaged food would be fined.

"We are worried about diseases that are common after flooding, especially typhoid, dengue and leptospirosis.

"Our main task now is to disinfect all evacuation centres, especially schools, because we want to ensure the schools are free from health risks," Chand said.

"There will be an increase in mosquitoes, we are also focusing on a mass clean-up of their breeding sources."

New Zealand has made an initial $350,000 available to help provide immediate aid.

Meanwhile, the Nadi weather office was monitoring a tropical depression to the east of Vanuatu which was expected to move towards Fiji by today.

Fiji Village reported that by Wednesday, the tropical depression may turn into a tropical cyclone.

Occasional heavy rainfall and gale force winds were expected in the western part of Fiji and other areas from tomorrow morning.

Heavy flooding of rivers and creeks were possible.