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Depression saturates Fiji again

Monday 18 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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FIJI – Heavy rain in Fiji over the weekend has caused flooding and road closures on the island of Vanua Levu, as the country was hit by yet another tropical depression.

Amit Singh, a senior forecaster at the Fiji Meteorological Service, said the system, TD17F, made landfall on the northern island Saturday, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds.

He said Vanua Levu received 24-hours of very heavy rainfall, which has flooded low-lying areas and damaged crops, according to reports received by the service.

“There’s been a significant amount of rainfall reported,” said Singh on Sunday. “Some places had more than 310mm in 24-hours, and some over 200, and some over 100.”

Local media were carrying reports of the Qawa river, which runs near the northern island’s main town of Labasa, bursting its banks on Sunday, flooding parts of the town.

Fiji Village reported police in the town saying the Labasa Civic Area, Bulileka, Soasoa, Siberia, Wailevu and the Airport road were all flooded.

Government officials in the Northern Division were mobilised in the flood affected areas to assess and monitor the situation.

Director National Disaster Management, Akapusi Tuifagalele said that the heavy rainfall caused flooding, especially in the Labasa area.

Four evacuation centres were active in Labasa, providing shelter to 307 evacuees whose homes got flooded.

People in the North, especially in Labasa, have been advised to take extra precaution and parents have been urged to monitor their children’s movements.

Fiji Roads Authority Acting Chief Executive Officer Rory Garland said the torrential rain brought down a large slip about half way between Labasa and the Transinsular turn-off.

A major detour has been established to keep the main cross-island route operational.

Weather system TD17F is the latest major tropical disturbance to affect Fiji since the category five Cyclone Winston caused extensive damage to much of the country nearly two months ago.

Two weeks ago, two tropical depressions and a category three cyclone, Zena, caused widespread flooding on the main island of Viti Levu, one of the areas worst-affected by Cyclone Winston.

However, Amit Singh said this weekend’s tropical depression has left areas hardest-hit by the cyclones largely unaffected.

Singh said the system was now moving southeast over the Lau group of islands and was steadily weakening.

Severe weather warnings for the country were expected to be cancelled early on Sunday afternoon, he said.

- PNC sources