3 Jul 2002

Parts of Fiji lashed by high seas

9:48 am on 3 July 2002

Scores of low lying coastal villages on Fiji's outer islands were evacuated as islanders braced themselves for a lashing by huge sea swells last night.

Schools along coastal areas, including several in the capital, Suva, were closed with the ministry of education urging them to take all precautions to safeguard the lives of students and teachers and secure property.

However, this morning the ministry advised that it was safe for most schools to re-open.

Sea water is reported to have covered the grounds and gardens of several hotels and resorts on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu as waves up to seven metres high crashed ashore.

Emergency services including the police, ambulance, fire services and the navy will remain on heightened alert until the threat eases.

The navy has asked vessels and small boats not to put to sea until the warning is lifted.

It has sent a search and rescue party to look for the source of several flares seen offshore from the Coral Coast last night.