Worst Over For Fiji's Lau Islands

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Storm already disrupted services and damaged infrastructure

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, January 4, 2016) – A storm warning for parts of Fiji's southeast has been cancelled, as Cyclone Ula is moving away from the island group where residents were bracing for destructive winds.

Fiji's national weather and disaster offices were expecting Ono-I-Lau to feel the worst of the storm and people in the Lau group gathered in communal buildings last night to take shelter as the category three storm swept through.

At its centre the system was is still producing average winds of 150 kilometres an hour and gusts of more than 205 kilometres an hour.

Ula has been moving at about 16 to 18 kilometres an hour and is located about 120 kilometres west-southwest of the island of Ono-I-Lau, which lies roughly between the main Fiji islands and Tonga.

Yesterday the National Emergency Operation Centre said there had been three deaths related to Ula, although the national disaster management office earlier stated these were not related to the cyclone.

The NEOC also says four people are missing in relation to Cyclone Ula.

Last night, Planner for the Eastern Division, Eliki Masa, said there had been no reports of significant damage although some trees had been damaged.

Mr Masa said the Lau group has been well prepared.

"The committee within every village, the preparedness committee, have been alerted to move all the community to a well-structured building. As far as the building is concerned. Some of them have moved to the churches. Some of them have been moved to the community hall. Some of them have moved to a well secured concrete building especially for them to take shelter in the next coming 12 hours, especially the night."

Fiji's National Emergency Operation Centre says the storm has disrupted various water supply facilities and power lines among other infrastructure in the central and eastern divisions.

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