16 Jan 2003

6 confirmed dead in Fiji after Cyclone Ami - many more missing

6:24 pm on 16 January 2003

Authorities in Fiji fear the death toll from Cyclone Ami could be as high as 30.

As police recover bodies of people who drowned in the northern town of Labasa, reports are emerging of more people still missing.

And efforts continue to send relief supplies to the victims who in some places are without water and electricity.

From Suva, Rita Narayan reports.

"Families have begun cremating the victims of cyclone Ami in Labasa because the hospitals morgue is unable to operate without electricity and water. The hospitals medical superintendent Dr Ami Chund says there could be as many as thirty people still missing in the rural areas of Labasa. The Fiji police has confirmed that six people are dead and nine are still missing. The National Disaster Management Center in Suva has been unable to confirm the causalities. Although communication has been partially restored to the northern division information from the various centers has been slow to arrive at the national center. Fiji's cabinet has scheduled a special meeting to discuss the rehabilitation programme. There is no budget for natural disasters and a senior finance official says they may need to redeploy funds from different ministries. Fiji's finance secretary Tevita Banuve says the cost of rehabilitation will depend on the assessments of damage caused by the cyclone"