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Tuesday 1 March 2016 | Published in Regional


SUVA – The death toll from Cyclone Winston has risen by one to 43.

The Director of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office, Akapusi Tuifagalele, told Fiji media the latest victim was from Koro Island.

FBC News reported the latest figures from the government saying there were now 54,615 people in 899 evacuation centres after the category five cyclone hit just over a week ago causing an estimated half a billion US dollars in damage.

Fiji has made a plea at the UN for immediate assistance from member countries as it says it can’t handle the effects of Cyclone Winston alone.

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN Peter Thomson told UN member countries nearly half of the population had been affected by the storm, a third of them children.

Thomson told the briefing in New York that Fiji had to start from scratch.

“I’m asking you as representatives of your governments and organisations to go the extra yard on this occasion.

“I know we have so many disasters around the world all the time but this is the first time Fiji’s put up its hand and said we need international assistance. We cannot actually do this alone.”

“Everything that the country had built in the past 30 years was destroyed in 24 hours,” Bainimarama told media earleir this week.

Thomson has also called on countries not to issue travel advisories against visiting Fiji as the tourism industry is operating normally.

He said Fiji’s main tourism infrastructure had been spared the devastation caused to many parts of the country.

“The Fijian hospitality, for which we are famous, is still there and ready to be servicing tourists – so do not please send out travel advisories saying stay away from Fiji. We’re open for business on tourism.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s foreign minister Murray McCully has visited Fiji to get an idea of how his country can help support Fiji long-term.

McCully is meeting with New Zealand’s response staff and holding meetings with the Fiji government.

McCully said the damage to property and loss of life caused by the cyclone was almost unprecedented in the Pacific.