15 Jan 2003

Fiji military on standby to help cyclone victims

11:50 am on 15 January 2003

Fiji's military has been put on standby to help victims of Cyclone Ami which lashed northern and eastern islands yesterday.

150 troops of the 3rd Battalion Fiji Infantry Regiment based in Suva are ready for deployment to help with rehabilitaion.

Navla patrol boats have been loaded with supplies for the cyclone hit islands.

The exact form of assistance will depend on the findings of a survey to be conducted today by an Orion aircraft of the Royal Air New Zealand Air force.

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, several cabinet ministers, disaster management officials and New Zealand aid personnel will be on board the aircraft.

The Fiji government has declared a state of natural disaster emergency in areas hit by the cyclone.

It covers the second island of Vanua Levu, Taveuni and islands in the Lau and Lomaiviti groups.

Telecommunications and electricity technicians will be flown to the disaster stricken islands today to restore services which have been down since the cyclone.

Fiji's domestic airlines will resume all local services and regional flights to Tonga and Tuvalu from today.

International flights from Nadi were not affected by the cyclone.