13 Apr 2004

Fiji search ends for five missing at sea

2:23 pm on 13 April 2004

The Fiji Navy has ended a search for five divers missing at sea since last Thursday's strong rain which brought flash floods and devastation on the main island.

Earlier today a French navy aircraft searched the waters off Nadi for four hours before leaving for its home base in New Caledonia.

A navy spokesman has told a local radio station that they have left the search to villagers in the Yasawa islands, asking them to report any debris they see.

The confirmed death toll remains at ten.

But another two people, a driver whose bus was toppled into a river by a landslide and his teenage son who was inside, are feared dead.

Apart from the two, nine other people remain missing.

The Kings Highway between Rakiraki and Tailevu has been cleared of its 17 landslides but only one lane is open.

All bus services have been suspended because of the dangerous condition of the road.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Weather Office has warned of more rain and the possibility of flooding as another depression merges with a similar system and heads over the country.

Its director, Rajendra Prasad, says heavy rain is already being reported in the interior of eastern Viti Levu and people in low-lying areas should be prepared.