SUVA, Fiji (RNZI, Jan. 24) - Four of the seven people missing since Cyclone Ami struck Fiji’s northern and eastern islands have been found alive and well.

Two of the four were sheltering on different islands while details of the other two have not been released yet.

The official death toll remains at 14 although another three people swept away by raging floodwaters are now believed to have died.

The northern town of Labasa is continuing to face a severe water crisis ten days after the cyclone caused widespread damage and flooding.

This is because the state-owned Fiji Electricity Authority has not been able to restore power supplies to the town and its water pumps.

Some areas which have started receiving piped supply report that the water is muddy and unusable.

The Labasa Hospital has reported a sharp increase in water borne diseases.

Meanwhile, the government is defending itself against criticisms that it has been too slow to assist thousands of cyclone victims left without food, clothing and shelter.

Ilaitia Tuisese, minister for regional development, told Radio Fiji that this is the first cyclone experienced by the Qarase government and there is room for improvement.

Tuisese says the response has been slow because the government has limited resources but he adds that officials have been doing excellent work despite being bombarded with criticism.

January 24, 2003

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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