Emergency declared in flood-hit Fiji

January 11th, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Jan 11 (DPA) A state of emergency was declared Sunday in the Pacific island state of Fiji where two people have died in floods, four are missing and hundreds of tourists stranded, according to reports from the capital Suva.Dusk to dawn curfews have been declared in three towns, including Nadi, site of Fiji’s international airport, which is cut off from Suva by floodwaters following torrential rains, the independent Fijilive website reported.

It quoted Defence and National Security Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau as saying military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama had imposed a state of emergency in the western division of the main island Viti Levu following the recommendation of the National Disaster Management Office.

“It is basically to safeguard lives and property,” he said. “We want to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the flood hit areas.”

Radio New Zealand quoted a New Zealand travel agency as saying it had at least 500 customers stranded in Fiji because of flooding, but all were safe.

A spokesman said people were confined to their accommodation because roads were impassable and it was impossible for boats to get to Nadi from outer islands where the main resorts are based.

Power supplies were cut in some places, drinking water was restricted and telephone lines were down in some places, Radio New Zealand reported.

About 700 people who have had to leave their homes are staying in schools being used as evacuation centres.

Two men were reported to have died trying to cross swollen rivers and Fijilive said two girls were believed to have been swept away in a landslide while two boys were missing in flood affected areas.

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