RELIEF REACHES FLOOD VICTIMS IN PNG’S CIKOBIA

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By Frederica Elbourne on Cikobia Island

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 12) – Tear filled eyes and smiles of relief greeted the first Government team that arrived on Cikobia with relief supplies yesterday morning.

Soldiers distributed water, food rations, clothes and other supplies worth a total of FJ$8,000 on the cyclone-devastated island.

The team, which included Red Cross officials, brought kerosene, clothes and a water tank to the tired looking villagers.

The team of army engineers and Ministry of Rural Housing officials got to work straight away as they carried out a door-to-door survey to hear first hand the concerns of each family.

Another team of Government workers cut away fallen trees around the village.

Teams led by Lieutenant Taniela Dolodai and the Commissioner Northern's representative Vilitati Ravai took time to do as much work as possible.

Food rations were distributed from a tent set up by army engineers on the village green between Nalele and Vuninuku villages.

Red Cross officials also set up two tents for villagers whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Cyclone Daman.

At Cikobia District School all seven buildings bore the scars of Cyclone Daman's effects. The villagers said trees as old as they could remember were uprooted by strong winds. Pieces of roofing iron were seen stuck on treetops and walls and the ceilings of most of the buildings of the school had collapsed or had been blown away.

Sokoveti Lasini, 62, whose house was flattened, said she had nothing to remember of her home except part of the floor that used to be their living room.

When the cyclone passed them on Saturday morning, Ms. Lasini cried but thanked God she was still alive. Lasini who is now billeted with one of her relatives said all she had left was her life.

A medical team led by Dr. Pablo Romakin completed testing of all water tanks before midday yesterday. He said all water tanks were contaminated by sea spray.

"We came in the nick of time. The only tank of water that was not contaminated is insufficient for the two villages," he said.

Villagers said they have not had any rainfall since Cyclone Daman last week.

They said Cyclone Daman was one of the worst they had experienced and could not be compared to past cyclones because of its intensity and damaging path.

Marika Turaga, 60, said during the cyclone, they could feel the walls and floor of their home vibrate.

He said water filled their homes and it was like being in a swimming pool.

Government supplies officer Labasa, George Katonivualiku said villagers were overwhelmed at the amount of provisions they received yesterday.

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