15 Jan 2009

Fiji asks for help: NZ likely to give more

8:12 pm on 15 January 2009

New Zealand is likely to offer more aid to Fiji as it struggles to cope with the flooding that has devastated parts of the country.

On Thursday afternoon the Fiji Government formally asked the rest of the world for help.

Until now, international relief had been coming in through the Red Cross, but this new request is for government-to-government funding.

New Zealand and Australia have already donated to the relief effort but aid is getting to only some of those in need. The Red Cross says it has distributed blankets and clothing but does not have enough food to meet people's needs.

The New Zealand Government has given $100,000 so far. Prime Minister John Key says any additional assistance will be made through the non-government organisation (NGO) sector.

11 people have died in the floods

Police say 11 people have been killed in the flooding, although one of the bodies has not yet been found.

The number of people in evacuation centres has risen to more than 9000. Heavy rain and gale-force winds damaged more houses on Wednesday, causing another 3000 people to seek help.

The damage in Nadi alone is now calculated at more than $100 million, with most businesses ruined and houses devastated.

However, the weather in Nadi on Thursday was more settled, with only a few bursts of rain, and the Fiji Weather Bureau says that a cyclone in January is now "very unlikely".