13 Apr 2004

Looters make most of flood chaos in Fiji

10:33 am on 13 April 2004

There have been reports of looting following last Thursday's devastating floods in Fiji whch left ten people dead and another ten missing.

Buses and other vehicles stranded along a stretch of the Kings Highway hit by seventeen landslides between Tailevu and Rakiraki have been stripped of their batteries, lights, tyres and other fittimngs and even drained of fuel.

A stranded bus conductor was robbed at knifepoint.

A Radio Legend report says thieves came on horseback and stole Telecom Fiji's newly erected solar installations for rural phones on a hill at Matawailevu in Ra.

This happened while village people were attending Easter Sunday services at a nearby church.

Meanwhile the confirmed death toll from the floods remains at ten with another ten people missing.

A French Navy aircraft will arrive fron New Caledonia today to help the Fiji Navy continue the search for seven of the ten who are missing in waters north of Nadi.

Schools in the worst affected area of north east Viti Levu will remain closed this week as many are being used as evacuation centres to house people whose homes were washed away or severely damaged by floodwaters.

Our correspondent in Suva, Shiu Singh, says the highway closures caused big problems for the Fiji Red Cross as it tried to get food and clothing to people in outlying villages.

"A lot of these are very remote places: villages not on the main road, by riverbanks and so on. The Red Cross people were supplying these people on foot because they couldn't get their vehicles anywhere near where the people needed the supplies. So they walked in with packs on their backs to help out over the weekend."