Tropical Cyclone Evan hits Viti Levu, Fiji
Thousands of people fled to evacuation centres in Fiji yesterday as a powerful cyclone lashed the Pacific nation, causing power outages and flash flooding.
Tropical Cyclone Evan pummelled the main island, Viti Levu, with winds exceeding 200 km/h, bringing down trees, blocking roads and forcing all flights to be grounded.
But Fijian authorities said there had been no reported casualties from the category four storm by late yesterday, unlike in neighbouring Samoa, where it killed at least four people late last week and left another 10 missing.
Government spokeswoman Sharon Smith-Johns said emergency planning appeared to have paid off, including moving hundreds of tourists from luxury resorts on outlying islands.
She said some 3,500 people were sheltering in well-stocked evacuation centres, locals appeared to be heeding warnings to avoid travel and all non-essential government personnel had been ordered to remain at home.
Smith-Johns said the cyclone would continue to batter the west coast of Viti Levu overnight and there was no room for complacency.
"The extent of the damage I don't think we're going to know until tomorrow morning when we wake up and see how badly it has hit," she said.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said Evan could generate 12-metre swells, creating a major flooding concern.