22 Feb 2016

NZ sends more aid to Fiji

8:52 pm on 22 February 2016

New Zealand will send more aid to Fiji after it's assessed the damage from Cyclone Winston.

A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules is on its to Fiji

A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules is on its to Fiji. Photo: DEFENCE

The most powerful storm in the country's recorded history barrelled into the Fiji mainland and neighbouring smaller islands late on Saturday destroying entire villages, flooding low-lying areas, and wiping out crops and 20 deaths are confirmed.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the government had released another $1.8 million to support New Zealand non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on the ground there.

A second Defence Force plane will also fly to Fiji Monday night carrying relief supplies and to help with damage assessment.

A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules is on its to Fiji.

A New Zealand Defence Force C-130 Hercules is on its to Fiji. Photo: DEFENCE

Mr McCully said it was clear Fiji faced a major clean-up and recovery operation.

"The death toll from Cyclone Winston continues to rise and reports of widespread damage are coming in from across Fiji," Mr McCully said.

"This evening a New Zealand Defence Force C-130 will depart for Suva carrying relief supplies and a Joint Reconnaissance Team made up of NZDF personnel, and Fire Service and Ministry of Health staff."

The Red Cross said authorities in Fiji were struggling to get an accurate picture of the damage caused by Cyclone Winston because telecommunication systems were down.

The Red Cross's operations manger in Fiji Melanie Ogle told RNZ News no one was quite sure yet of the full extent of the damage.

"All agencies, including Government, are a little bit hampered by the lack of information and the telecommunications being down," she said.

"I think we'll get a much clearer picture in the next 12 to 24 hours."

A New Zealand Defence Force Orion has been helping with aerial surveillance of the outer islands of Koro, Lau, Taveuni and Rabi which were hit by the Category 5 storm.

Prime Minister John Key told Morning Report following assessments of what is required in Fiji, next steps would be decided on where New Zealand might be able to help.

"I don't think there's any doubt that we would end up doing more up there."

He said Fiji knew New Zealand was waiting in the wings to help them.

"Now we're going through the cleanup phase we'll give them a chance to come back to us and say 'well look this is what we think are the next appropriate steps'."

The morning after category five Cyclone Winston hit Fiji.

The morning after category five Cyclone Winston hit Fiji. Photo: Twitter / @Alinaziah

He said next steps were likely to be around structural repairs, including damage to infrastructure.