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Monday, March 15, 2010

Very Intense Cyclone Tomas pounds Fiji

Tropical Cyclone Tomas is now a very intense Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 170 - 200 km/hr and gusts as high as 270 km/hr near its center. The cyclone is currently passing over the eastern end of the northern island of Vanua Levu.

Hurricane warning remains in place (Fiji Village)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Tomas centre Category 4 was located near 16 decimal 8 South 179 decimal 6 West or about 120km East Southeast of Labasa or 255 kilometres North East of Suva at 2.30 this morning.

Close to its centre, Tomas is estimated to have average winds of 175 kilometres per hour increasing to 200 kilometres per hour within the next 12 hours with momentary gusts up to 270 kilometres per hour.

The hurricane is intensifying and moving South at 10 kilometres per hour.

On this track, the cyclone centre is expected to be located about 190 kilometres East of Suva or 105 kilometres west of Lakeba at 3pm today and about 230 kilometres South Southwest of Lakeba or 320 kilomerters Southeast of Suva at 3am tomorrow.

Nadi Weather Office Duty Forecaster Terry Atalifo said the situation is not expected to change over the next few hours as the system is very slow moving.

Tomas is causing much damage due tot he high winds and heavy rains. Flooding is cauing evacuations in many villages and as many as 5000 people are currently without shelter.

Cyclone Tomas batters Fiji islands; thousands left unsheltered (Entertainment & Showbiz)

CNN and Australia Networks report that Fiji’s northern islands have been slammed by Tomas, the Category4 cyclone with a wind speed of 275 km/h (170 mph) and heavy rain. The storm grew up into a Category4 storm overnight which is one of the most destructive storms, as reported by the Nadi Weather Center.

More than 5000 people are left unsheltered as they are evacuated from the overflowing villages and moved to relatively safe places in Fiji’s northern island of Vanua Levu. Schools, banks and other institutes have been ordered to stay closed for some days.

Much damage has been done in the region.There is no power supply in Labassa and a curfew is expected to begin overnight, as told by a resident Alifereti Fisaitu to Radio Australia. Besides Labassa, which is comparatively in a better position, Wainiika, Nuku and Vatu are all under seawater and the residents are evacuated.

Most of the houses are blown away in the cyclone while the stronger buildings expect damages tomorrow as the cyclone is expected to grow deadlier.

The weather officials haven’t reported of death casualties or severe damages till now.


Cyclone damage widespread in Fiji (UPI)

SUVA, Fiji, March 15 (UPI) -- A cyclone Monday swamped Fiji's northern islands, killing at least one person and injuring dozens with heavy rain and gusts as high as 170 mph, officials said.

"Squatter houses have been blown away," Alipate Waqaicelua, forecaster for the Nadi Tropical Cyclone Center, told CNN.

--snip--

One woman drowned off the island of Vanua Leva while trying to rescue others from huge waves and eighteen patients at a hospital on Tavenui Island were evacuated after part of the hospital's roof blew off, TVNZ reported.

Dozens of injuries were reported and several villages in northern Vanua Leva were evacuated after rising water threatened bridges and swamped roads, Fiji's Disaster Management Center said.

The cyclone caused significant damage to water and power supplies in northern Fiji, but authorities had yet to fully assess the damage, TVNZ reported.

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