17 Mar 2016

Fiji engineers to assess cyclone damage

8:34 am on 17 March 2016

Engineers in Fiji are heading out to assess damage to government properties from Cyclone Winston last month.

A handout photo taken on 23 February, 2016 and obtained on 24 February, shows damage to a school dormitory on Koro Island as aid arrives and the clean-up starts after the most powerful cyclone in Fiji's history battered the Pacific island nation.

Damage to a school dormitory on Koro Island as aid arrives and the clean-up starts after Cyclone Winston. Photo: AFP

More than 250 of the properties have been tagged as the most badly hit, after the category five storm blasted the islands.

The engineers are helping at the request of the Fiji government, and the bulk of the properties to be assessed are schools, but also include health centres and hospitals.

According to the Fiji Institution of Engineers, the teams have been mobilising and some are already on location in Viti Levu and in the Savusavu region, while another team is flying out to Ovalau on Friday.

The institution's president, Warren Yee, said his members volunteered to help.

"These engineers normally work in the private industry and for commercial clients, and have very rarely worked on government assignments."

"So this offer for assistance is quite huge," he said. "We only have 18 engineers on this list and 14 of them have volunteered to go out in the field, with their technical team."

Mr Yee said most of the assessments will be completed in two to three weeks and will include common causes of building failure as well as potential repair costs.

Meanwhile,repairs to the country's roads from the storm have been estimated by Fiji Roads Authority at US$64 million, and could take up to three years to complete.

The total damage bill is still being counted and government departments and agencies have been told to have their assessments roads and infrastructure by the end of the week.

In Rakiraki the cyclone flipped a van and slammed it into the ground

In Rakiraki the cyclone flipped a van and slammed it into the ground Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

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