ONE DEAD, SIX MISSING IN FIJI FLOODS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (January 20, 1999 - Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Two months after the 18-month drought that hit the Fiji Islands, the Western Division was flooded by one of the worst downpours in history, the Daily Post reports.

And in less than 24 hours of the heavy rain, one woman was confirmed dead while six others were unaccounted for.

The National Disaster Management Center (DISMAC) confirmed that six people, all from Tavua, are still missing.

In Ba, one woman was swept away from her home as her husband and son watched in despair.

People in Nadi and Ba were watching from their rooftops as other homes were either half submerged or fully submerged.

Shops remained closed and the working class stayed at home, preoccupied with securing their property and belongings.

Another woman in Rakiraki was fortunate to be saved after she was also swept away in floods.

Some areas in the Western Division experienced power failures and communication lines were badly affected.

Ten-ton trucks were the only means of transportation along Queens Road between Nadi and Lautoka and drivers were charging $50 to risk the trip.

In Suva, DISMAC was activated and warnings were being issued to low-lying areas around the country, including Suva.

A high tide last night was expected to compound the problems already faced in the flooded areas and people living around coastal areas have been warned to monitor weather situations.

"The skies just opened up, pouring in buckets of water," Weather Officer Rajendra Prasad said.

For the 24 hours to 10:00 a.m. yesterday Lautoka recorded 375 millimeters (15 inches) of rain -- the heaviest fall in history.

Mr. Prasad forecast that there would be more rain, with low lying areas around the country expected to be affected.

(SEE BELOW FOR UPDATE.)

Title -- 1871 DISASTERS: Fiji floods leave 1 dead, 6 missing Date -- 20 January 1999 Byline -- None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 20/1/99 Copyright -- DP Status -- Unabridged

This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/

UPDATE: January 20, 1999

The Pacific News Service (PACNEWS) in Suva, reports:

Of the six people earlier reported missing, three fishermen who were out at sea but returned yesterday afternoon have been found.

Bodies in the mortuaries of three hospitals in the western part of Viti Levu are decomposing. The Electricity Authority is attempting to restore power to the hospitals. Authorities cannot ask relatives to remove the bodies because the floods have made it difficult for people to reach the hospitals.

Fiji's only international airport, located outside the western town of Nadi, is operating normally. Road links to the airport were cut off yesterday, with Nadi one of the worst hit towns. While international flights are returning to normal schedules, Fiji's two domestic airlines have not resumed flights to the outer islands.

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