Fiji (Updated) – Deadly Floods in Viti Levu as Tropical Cyclone Zena Approaches

Update:

Local media in Fiji are reporting that 3 people died in the floods of 05 to 07 April, 2016 and the further severe weather brought by Tropical Cyclone Zena.

The first victim was a man found dead in the Sabeto River, Viti Levu island, on Tuesday 05 April, 2016. The second victim was a 19 year old girl who went missing after she was washed away by strong river currents. Her body was later found at Wailoaloa beach. A third victim died on Thursday 07 April after he was swpet away an overflowing river at Sun City, Uciwai, in Nadi.

Original Report:

Several days of torrential rain brought by an unnamed tropical disturbance resulted in deadly floods in parts of Fiji earlier this week.

Local media report that at least one person has died and another is missing. The body of a man was found in the overflowing Sabeto River, Viti Levu island, on Tuesday 05 April, 2016. A 19 year old girl is reported missing after she was washed away by strong river currents, prompting the government of Fiji to issue a warning regarding safety around flood water:

“To all parents, its important that you know the whereabouts of your children and monitor their movement. We’ve seen too much complacency in the last few days with children, teenagers and adults swimming in flooded areas. It’s dangerous to venture out in flooded waters so please be safe and move to higher grounds or safe shelters.”

Fiji’s largest and most populous island, Viti Levu, was worst affected, in particular the city of Nadi, where streets and homes were inundated after the Nadi River overflowed on Monday 04 April.

On 05 April, Fiji’s Ministry of National Disaster Management urged people to move from flood-prone areas.

“Families living in flood-prone areas need to move to the nearest evacuation centre immediately. Farmers and business houses should move their livestock to higher ground and secure their property. All families should make sure they have essential supplies available such as water, batteries and first aid materials and all Fijians should limit their movement and remain indoors,” said the Permanent Secretary for National Disaster Management, Mr Meleti Bainimarama.

Radio New Zealand reported that at, as of 05 April, least 3,500 were evacuated into 79 emergency shelters in north and west Viti Levu. This figure has since increased as a result of the threat of Cyclone Zena (see below).

Recovery After Cyclone Winston

The floods come 2 months after the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston, the strongest ever to hit Fiji, which left over 40 people dead.

Save the Children Fiji CEO Iris Low-McKenzie said flash flooding was the last thing needed for those affected by Cyclone Winston.

“These rains make life so much more difficult for those still living in temporary shelter, who are working each day to rebuild their homes and lives,” she said.

“It’s also detrimental for the humanitarian response as roads become harder to pass, and in some cases access is temporarily stopped.

“But flash flooding like this is a reality in a tropical country like Fiji and we will continue doing everything we can to help the people of Fiji recover and get life back to normal.”

Tropical Cyclone Zena

Fiji Meteorological Service warned there is more severe weather to come, as Tropical Cyclone Zena is forecast to move towards southern Fiji and Tonga.

Forecast track of Tropical Cyclone Zena. Image: Fiji Meteorological Service
Forecast track of Tropical Cyclone Zena. Image: Fiji Meteorological Service

Earlier today the cyclone made landfall on the islands of Espiritu Santo, Aoba and Pentecost, Vanuatu, with sustained wind speeds of up to 85 km/h.

The cyclone is expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds to most of the Fiji islands. Over 100 mm of rain in 24 hours was recorded in Vunisea, Kadavu island, between 05 and 06 April.

Many flights have been cancelled, schools closed and further evacuations carried out. Local media report that over 6,000 people have now evacuated their homes. Around 200 evacuation centres have been opened by authorities to accommodate those displaced.

Cyclone Zena warnings. Image; Fiji Government
Cyclone Zena warnings. Image; Fiji Government

Flood summary

Last updated: July 13, 2016
Event
Fiji, April 2016
Date
April 5 to April 7, 2016
Type
Inland flood, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall
Several days of torrential rain brought by an unnamed tropical disturbance resulted in deadly floods in parts of Fiji from 05 April 2016.

Locations

A - Viti Levu, Fiji
B - Nadi, Fiji

Magnitude

River level
Overflowing
Sabeto River, Viti Levu - April 5 to April 7, 2016

Damages

Fatalities
3 people
Viti Levu - April 5 to April 7, 2016
Evacuated
3,500
Viti Levu - April 5 to April 7, 2016