21 Jan 2003

Fears in Fiji that new cyclone may form within days

12:38 pm on 21 January 2003

There are fears in Fiji that the country could be hit by another cyclone in the next few days.

The director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad, says a low pressure system to the north-west of Fiji and north of Vanuatu could intensify and move south.

Mr Prasad says the system is likely to bring rain and strong winds and is responsible for the current hot and humid conditions.

He says since the South-East Pacific is still in the cyclone season, people must always prepared.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says relief will be provided in two stages for victims of Cyclone Ami which struck northern and eastern Fiji last Tuesday.

Mr Qarase says in the first phase, essential food rations and other assistance will be provided to people in evacuation centres.

In the second phase, food rations will be sent for a period of time to be decided by cabinet on the recommendations of the state's Disaster Management Centre.

With much of the town of Labasa still without piped water, there are reports of water borne diseases hospitalising children.

And traders are reported to be profiteering by filling tankers with river water for sale in town.

The Red Cross has flown a water purification plant to Labasa for use by the local hospital.

In another development, police have arrested 15 youths on Taveuni Island for looting during the cyclone.