Fiji floods: NZ ready to help

By NZ Herald staff, APNZ

Shop owners clean up whatever is left in Nadi town. Photo / supplied
Shop owners clean up whatever is left in Nadi town. Photo / supplied

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand is on stand by to help Kiwis stranded by floodwaters in Fiji, as authorities there warn tourists to stay away.

Severe weather has pounded Fiji, killing at least four, as flash floods bring down power and water supplies over the weekend.

Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns told Radio New Zealand today that the death toll was now at four.

"There are about 5000 people currently in evacuation centres...and that number comes up and down as the flood waters rise and go down.''

It had stopped raining now and rivers had receded overnight, but Ms Smith-Johns said tourists should still stay away.

"We love tourists, we love the Kiwis and the Aussies but at the moment the best place to be is to be at home until this clears, but it will clear very quickly.

"At the moment flying in, it's difficult to get to hotels.''

Water was still cut while the power remained off, she said.

"We've had a bashing over in Fiji, we've just got it all back together again from the floods in January...the rain we've had in the 24 hour period have been horrendous.''

Prime Minister John Key said the Government was prepared to evacuate New Zealanders from Fiji if required.

Speaking to TVNZ this morning, Mr Key said the foreign affairs ministry was monitoring the situation and, if necessary, would go in and get New Zealanders.

"But they may well be in conditions that are quite stable ... it's people in rural parts of Fiji where we've already had lives lost, people's homes devastated, so that's really where support would come in.''

Air New Zealand said two flights to Fiji were planned today, weather permitting.

The Fiji Government had banned inbound passengers to Fiji, so the flights would go to Fiji empty to get stranded passengers out.

Air New Zealand would put on extra services to and from Nadi as soon as the weather improved, a spokesman said yesterday.

The planned flights are NZ56, due to leave Auckland at 10.30am, and NZ754, scheduled to depart at 3.45pm.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is closely watching the situation and is ready to help if necessary.

It knew of no New Zealanders who had been injured or whose safety was seriously at risk, a spokeswoman said.

At least 1000 people have had their travel plans disrupted, including outbound passengers in Auckland.

MetService severe weather forecaster Erick Brenstrum said the rain had persisted in Fiji even after the centre of the tropical storm moved on - and there was the possibility of thunderstorms for two more days.

The weather system was set to arrive in New Zealand tomorrow, particularly affecting eastern areas such as Gisborne, which had already suffered heavily from rains this year.

The western side of the North Island could also get some of the worst winds, Mr Brenstrum said.

"A lot of places will get gale-force winds, and a chance of severe gales,'' he said.

"We're going to get interesting weather over most of the North Island, and possibly the top of the South Island,'' he said.

''[But] they do change a lot on the way down, so it won't be identical to the storm Fiji got,'' Mr Brenstrum said.

A tropical cyclone was also now brewing near Vanuatu, but it was likely to miss both Fiji and New Zealand, he said.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 28 Aug 2014 09:59:03 Processing Time: 736ms