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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Fiji declares state of disaster as Cyclone Tomas hits

A state of disaster has been declared in parts of Fiji, as Cyclone Tomas blasts through the north and east of the Pacific island country.

At least 5,000 people have had leave their homes, and 50 properties have so far been destroyed.

Cyclone Tomas, a category four storm, is blowing at up to 170km/h (106 mph).

The eastern Lau group of islands is bearing the brunt of the storm, but the main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu have escaped the worst.

"The National Disaster Council has declared a state of disaster in the northern division and eastern division," National Disaster Management Office operations officer Anthony Blake said.

There is particular concern about the islands of Cikobia and Qelelevu; nothing has been heard from them since the cyclone hit there on Monday.

Mr Blake added that he expected the number of destroyed homes to increase over the coming days.

Schools have closed, public services have been suspended, and international flights have been cancelled.

There have been no casualties reported since officials said a woman was swept away in heavy seas as the storm approached.

The cyclone was said to be moving slowly, increasing the potential for damage.

Power and telephone lines are down in many parts of the country, and some healthcare buildings have been damaged.
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