24 Jan 2012

Hundreds evacuated as rain batters Fiji

11:03 pm on 24 January 2012

Two men have died and more than 700 people have been evacuated as floodwaters continue to rise in Fiji.

The west of the main island, Viti Levu, has been worst affected by consistent heavy rain since Saturday. The men who died were farmers trying to move stock.

Floodwaters on the island are expected to peak overnight on Tuesday. The Nadi River has burst its banks, raising concerns about flooding in the tourist area of Denarau.

Roads are closed in the main tourist town of Nadi and access to other towns, including Ba and Rakiraki, are difficult.

The Ministry of Information says authorities are keeping a close eye on the situation.

People are being told to remain indoors and keep their radios on to receive regular updates.

Schools in the west are closed, while 393 adults and 322 children have been moved to evacuation centres.

Fiji's Metservice says heavy rain is expected to last for the rest of Tuesday and will begin to ease on Wednesday morning.

Senior meteorologist Amit Singh a wet weekend is forecast for Fiji, starting from late on Friday.

International flights at Nadi airport are still operating.

NZ visitors not put off

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Tuesday at least 430 New Zealanders are known to be in Fiji. However, the High Commission im Suva has not been contacted by anyone needing help.

New Zealander Darryl Hook lives in the resort area of Denarau and says the rain feels similar to floods in 2009 which killed 12 people.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders who have booked trips to Fiji have not been deterred by the flooding.

Travel agency Flight Centre says no one has called to postpone or cancel on Tuesday.

Executive general manager Michael Friend says no tourist resort has been affected by the rain.