15 Apr 2004

Fiji soldiers and police rescue hundreds from rising flood waters

7:34 pm on 15 April 2004

Soldiers, sailors and police in Fiji are engaged in rescuing hundreds of flood victims in the southern half of the main island after rapidly rising waters flooded their homes.

At one time the town of Navua, about 40km to the west of Suva, and surrounding areas were under two metres of water.

Among those who had to be evacuated were farmers resettled in Navua after their land leases in other parts of the country expired.

Nearly ten evacuation centres have been set up in churches and schools around Navua.

Many sections of roads have been washed away.

Electricity and telecommunications to the area remain cut off with only mobile phones working.

Rain has eased and water levels are falling in Navua this evening.

But they are still rising in areas north of Suva near Nausori, Sawani, the Rewa Delta, Korovou town and Tailevu where rescue work is under way and evacuation centres are being set up.

Both the Queens and Kings Highways linking Suva to Nadi and the country's west remain under water and closed to all traffic.

Many secondary roads and bridges north of Suva are also under water and closed to all traffic.

Landslides have been reported from widely scattered areas.

The weather office says the system which brought the heavy rain has moved to the south.

But another trough is building up in the west and rain, unsettled weather and strong winds are expected from tomorrow.