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Fiji facing more floods as cyclone Daphne approaches

Published: 6:14AM Monday April 02, 2012 Source: ONE News

Fiji is bracing for more strong winds and heavy rain as a tropical cyclone bears down on already flood ravaged areas.

The Metservice says cyclone Daphne is moving through the ocean off to the west of Fiji. Western parts of the country will catch the edge of the gale-force winds, but rain brought by the cyclone will be more widespread.

Around 11,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes in the Western Division, after flooding has killed four people and left people without running water or power.

Flights to flood-hit Fiji resumed this afternoon but the Government is warning against non-essential travel as the cyclone moves in.

Air Pacific announced it had resumed flights to the rain-ravaged holiday destination shortly after an empty Air New Zealand 747 aircraft left from Auckland Airport to pick up stranded passengers from Nadi airport.

However, flights this evening have again been cancelled as the cyclone approaches.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade recommends if people have concerns for family or friends in Fiji they should attempt to contact them in the first instance. Failing that, they can contact MFAT by phone on (04) 439 8000.

Inia Seruiratu, from the Ministry of Provincial Development, has urged Fijians to stay out of flood waters, including those living near flood prone areas.

This follows concerns that some people were still crossing flooded waters to buy cigarettes and other items from shops.

A Government barge was earlier deployed to the Western Division carrying 120,000 litres of water to assist hotels along the coastline and the Nadi district.

The Fiji Roads Authority has confirmed that the Navo bridge remains open to single lane traffic only.

The Land and Water Resources Management senior engineer Frank Alhambra said the water level is expected to normalise within two to three days and evacuees can be expected to return to their various homes once water has receded.

Police officers have been sent to evacuation centres to maintain security and the Fiji Military Force will also assist if necessary.

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A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said there are 433 New Zealanders registered as being in Fiji, 118 of these in Nadi.

Prime Minister John Key says the Minister of Foreign Affairs has made it clear that New Zealand will provide support for Fiji if required.

Key told Breakfast MFAT is monitoring the situation in Fiji which is very serious.

He said that if required, New Zealand would provide the likes of emergency food and blankets for people in rural parts of Fiji where lives have been lost and people's homes devastated.

Key said if absolutely required New Zealanders would be evacuated from Fiji but they may well be in conditions that are quite stable for them.

The Government is monitoring that situation, he said.

Travellers stranded

Hundreds of anxious holiday-makers have had their holidays postponed by the devastating floods during a peak tourism season.

Stranded traveller Kylie Morris had her flight to Nadi rescheduled for tomorrow morning after almost touching down in the holiday destination on Sunday.

She, along with three friends, were on a flight that had to make the six-hour round-trip back to Auckland moments before landing in Nadi.

"We even saw Fiji, saw the Tarmac, and promptly turned around and came back home," said Morris.

"Even if we landed the reality of being able to get to where we're staying and being able to buy food or water or anything like that is probably fairly difficult at the moment."

House of Travel's Brent Thomas said the agency has more than 700 holiday makers booked to visit Fiji in the next week.

"This is obviously a key time for people going up to Fiji.  There are only four weeks of the year people get away for holidays and this is one of the special ones," said Thomas.