2 Apr 2012

NZ ready to help flood-stricken Fiji

11:09 pm on 2 April 2012

New Zealand says it has received no formal request for help from flood-hit Fiji but it is ready and willing to provide support.

The main island of Viti Levu has been severely flooded since heavy rain began on Thursday night. Five people have died, another three are missing about 8000 have been forced into evacuation centres.

Tropical cyclone Daphne was expected to hit Fiji from about 6pm on Monday and will pass 500km south-west of the country, bringing more rain and strong winds.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Monday the Government would provide support through the Red Cross and military resources would also be available if needed.

Some 433 New Zealanders are registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as being in Fiji, including 118 in Nadi.

MFAT says staff have made contact with a number of New Zealanders and are not aware of any who are injured or whose safety is seriously at risk.

The ministry is advising New Zealanders against all tourist and non-essential travel to parts of the Western Division of Viti Levu, including the tourist areas Nadi and the Coral Coast which have been most severely affected by flooding.

Thousands try to leave

People returning to New Zealand say getting flights out of Fiji was chaotic as authorities struggled to deal with thousands trying to leave.

Airlines have been flying empty planes to the town of Nadi to bring out tourists and hundreds arrived in Auckland on Monday afternoon.

Jonathan Keate was in Fiji on business and says Nadi Airport was chaotic and getting help proved difficult.

"I was trying to get online and ring people but all the call centre numbers were always very busy, so you might have to wait 20 minutes to talk to someone and then they wouldn't know what was happening anyway."

John Grimley says his Fiji honeymoon was far from the tropical holiday he had in mind and for the last few days his family shared an apartment with 10 other people as they waited to get a flight out.