STRANDED FIJI PM QARASE, MINISTERS SHELTER WITH HIGHLANDS FAMILY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 31, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and members of his Cabinet took shelter in a family home in the highlands of the country's main island Saturday after floods blocked the road.

Mr. Qarase and his ministers were in a convoy of four-wheel drive vehicles returning to Suva for Easter after visiting rural villages on Viti Levu.

They founded themselves stranded by flooding caused by heavy rain.

Irinieta Vula and her husband Viliame Vakamoce welcomed the prime minister and his party into their home while they waited for floodwaters to recede and rain to subside.

A small welcoming ceremony was accorded to Mr. Qarase and his Cabinet by Mr. Vakamoce, a retired Public Works Department employee.

Mr. Qarase, who had been given a roasted pig and a basket of dalo (taro) at the village they had earlier visited, presented the food to the couple as a token of appreciation for giving shelter.

When the floodwaters dropped enough for the convoy to move on, their departure was marked by a prayer led by Health Minister Pita Nacuva and a hymn.

It was one Easter that this highlands couple will never forget.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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