17 Jan 2003

Cyclone Ami death toll rises to eleven but more people are still missing

12:11 pm on 17 January 2003

The confirmed death toll in Fiji from Cyclone Ami has reached eleven but the figure is expected to rise.

The few surviving members of a family near Labasa are mourning the death of nine relatives whose home was swept away by raging floodwaters at the height of the cyclone.

The bodies of four of these have been recovered and cremated.

The survivors say they have no food and no money and are seeking urgent government help.

But officials say they can only recommend state assistance once they receive a formal report.

The two other deaths were those of a man in the Lau Islands and a child in Savusavu.

Authorities fear the final toll could be as high as thirty with many reports of missing people.

On Taveuni Island, shops are reported to be running out of food after people rushed to stock up after the only jetty was damaged by the cyclone.

Meanwhile, eight survey teams have left Suva to assess damage in the Lau and Lomaiviti groups and islands offshore from Vanua Levu.