15 Mar 2010

Cyclone Tomas hits Fiji's northern island of Vanua Levu

2:38 pm on 15 March 2010

Cyclone Tomas is battering Fiji's northern island of Vanua Levu, with more than 5,000 people evacuated from their homes.

The Nadi Weather office says the Category 4 storm is about 390 kilometres northeast of the capital, Suva, with winds of up to 175 kilometres per hour.

Strong winds have torn off roofs, and some areas are being flooded by strong sea swells.

Inia Seruiratu, at a disaster centre in one of the worst affected parts of Vanua Levu, says the number of evacuation centres on the island have been boosted to 90, and more people are expected to be evacuated this afternoon.

A nationwide curfew was lifted this morning to allow people to buy emergency supplies.

It will come back into force tonight.

Tourism Fiji says Air New Zealand and V-Australia have cancelled all Fiji services until further notice.

Air Pacific says it will postpone flights to Fiji from Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney until Tuesday.