Fijians scramble to higher ground amid floods

People walk through flood water in Nadi in late January. [ABC]
PHOTO

People walk through flood water in Nadi in late January. [ABC]

VIDEO from Australia Network News

Radio Australia's Bruce Hill reports on the situation in Fiji

Created: 30/03/2012

AUDIO from Pacific Beat

Flooding in Fiji expected to worsen

Created: 30/03/2012

Last Updated: Fri, 30 Mar 2012 19:57:00 +1100

Residents of Fiji's Western Division are bracing for more flooding with river levels expected to peak.

The Suva-based Nadraki weather service said rain was beginning to ease late Friday but more flooding was likely overnight.

"There's a likelihood of more rain, but with the river levels already high, it could bring back more flooding," Nadraki meteorologist Neville Koop told Pacific Beat .

Heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in the west of the main island Viti Levu on Friday, taking water levels higher than those experienced during a six-day deluge in January which claimed 11 lives, meteorologists said.

Police said they were not aware of any deaths in the latest disaster, which cut off the town of Nadi, home to Fiji's international airport, as well as other centres including Ba, Lautoka, Rakiraki and Sigatoka.

Most flights to and from Nadi were cancelled, national carrier Air Pacific said.

Disaster management office Dismac said a "massive" number of people were stranded on rooftops awaiting rescue and appealed for anyone with a boat to help relief efforts.

"We've got a lot of reports of people on rooftops, it's quite a massive number," Dismac director Pajiliai Dobui said.

"If people in these areas have boats, we're asking them to make them available, as the little we have is not enough."

Dismac said it had opened 11 evacuations centres. No figures detailing how many people were sheltering in the centres were immediately available.

The Fiji Electricity Authority said it was switching off power to parts of the Western Division as a "precautionary measure".

The Fiji Red Cross said much of the Western District was caught off guard by the scale of the flooding, with most people expecting the rain to fall in northern parts of Fiji.

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