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Monday, December 17, 2012

Fiji: Tropical Cyclone Evan Update

Official Name:  Severe Tropical Cyclone EVAN

TROPICAL CYCLONE EVAN UPDATE #3

Nadi, Fiji, Monday 17 December, 2012 (6pm) - As noted previously, the Fiji Government's emergency response teams have been activated, and all residents and visitors to Fiji have taken shelter while they await the passage of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

Once the cyclone has passed, emergency response teams as well as power, water and telephone companies will be focused on restoring any essential services that have been lost.

As seen on various weather-related internet sites, Tropical Cyclone Evan, a category 4 cyclone, is continuing its southwest movement past Fiji's biggest island of Viti Levu. At present, the cyclone is expected to pass between the town of Nadi and the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands at approximately 8pm local Fiji time.

Some flooding has been reported in low-lying areas, and this is expected to continue as the cyclone moves past the country.

Gale force winds and driving rain were experienced earlier in the day on the northern island of Vanua Levu, and winds were reported to have knocked down trees in various parts of this island.

No injuries or loss of life have been reported on any of the islands which the cyclone has already passed.

One northern resort near Savusavu, on the Island of Vanua Levu, reported the loss of tree branches and palm fronds, but minimal property damage, and the resort noted clean-up efforts were already underway.

It has been reported that power has been lost to most of Vanua Levu, parts of northern and western Viti Levu, as well as parts of the capital city of Suva. Fiji Electricity Authority, the country's electricity company plans to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so. Power in most parts of the country automatically shuts down during a storm or during electricity interruptions to prevent hazards from downed power lines or fallen wires.

Emergency centres established by the Government have been activated throughout the country for those living in non-cyclone proof homes, hotels, resorts, or buildings. The government has reported that it is already sheltering approximately over 4,500 people throughout the country (3500 people on Vanua Levu in the north, 250 people in Eastern Viti Levu, 400 in Western Viti Levu and 300 in the eastern part of Viti Levu). This number is expected to increase to approximately 8000 by the end of today. All shelters are stocked with enough food and water for three days. In addition, additional water trucks have been deployed to all parts of the main island of Viti Levu, to ensure water supplies are maintained.

The focus of the Government's Disaster Management Office (DISMAC) wil be on emergency relief once Evan passes tomorrow. Emergency teams are already on standby to begin clean-up operations immediately following passage of the cyclone, and the Ministry of Health has teams ready to assist with any safety, medical, or health issues. The Fiji Navy has also prepared or pre-positioned naval ships, helicopters, and medical supplies.

"We are well-prepared to respond as soon as this severe tropical storm passes by and down to the south of Fiji," said Elizabeth Powell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation & Tourism. "All emergency teams are in place and ready to mobilise once the all clear signal is given."

For continual updates on the status of Cyclone Evan and its impact on Fiji please visit the website: www.Fiji.gov.fj

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Nadi, Fiji, 16 December, 2012: As Tropical Cyclone Evan continues its expected move towards and past the Western side of the main island of Viti Levu in Fiji, high winds and heavy rain are expected to affect Nadi International Airport starting later this evening (Sunday) through Monday and into early Tuesday morning. Winds have already picked up at the northern island of Vanua Levu forcing the cancellation of remaining Pacific Sun flights to/from Savusavu later today (Sunday).

At present, meteorological sources expect the storm to pass the western part of Fiji sometime around 7pm on Monday night (17 December), and it expected to have dissipated by Tuesday morning (December 18th).

While the cyclone is not expected to come any closer than 70 nautical miles to Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, very strong winds, gusty rains, and other storm effects will impact sea ports, ferry operations and other activities.

The Fiji Government, through its Fiji Disaster Office (DISMAC) is working with the tourism industry to co-ordinate cyclone preparation and recovery efforts. Hotels and all operators are on alert and advising guests of the status of the Cyclone and providing assistance as required. DISMAC is closely monitoring the proposed track of Tropical Cyclone Evan.

“We are concerned about the capacity of this Cyclone and have activated and mobilised our emergency response teams, disaster relief centers, police and military forces,” said Elizabeth Powell, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Public Enterprises, Communications, Civil Aviation & Tourism. “The safety of our community and our international guests is our main concern, and we have established and stocked 300 emergency centres -- should they be needed.”

It is believed that many of the Australians, New Zealanders, and other international visitors who were holidaying in Fiji’s western outer islands (the Yasawas and Mamanucas) have already moved back to the main island of Viti Levu, and others have returned home as planned or early.

The Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association has advised that no change fees will apply to guests postponing their travel and rebooking a new dates*. Should guests cancel their travel, normal cancellation fees will apply.

Air Pacific, Fiji’s national airline, has also issued a “Waiver of Change” press release relating to travel during this period. (see www.airpacific.com)

For continual updates on the status of Cyclone Evan and its impact on Fiji please visit the website: www.Fiji.gov.fj

Air Pacific has advised all passengers flying to/from Fiji from Sunday through Tuesday to regularly check its website www.airpacific.com for the latest updates on weather and flight information.

*Hotel cancellations are valid for arrivals until and including Friday the 21st of December

2012, and guests must re-book travel arriving by no later than the 31st of March 2013
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