New Zealand has sent desperately needed supplies to cyclone-ravaged Samoa and Fiji as thousands remain in evacuation centres and vital services are cut off.
An RNZAF C-130 Hercules has landed in Apia with essential humanitarian supplies and diesel generators to support the relief effort, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said today.
"There is an urgent need for generators to ensure the Samoa Water Authority can pump and transport water to affected communities.
"In addition, we sent staff from the New Zealand Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management to work within the Samoa National Disaster Management Office.''
Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the relief and recovery bill would run up to the hundreds of millions of dollars, with funds needed to fix water supplies, restore electricity, clear debris, rebuild public infrastructure and feed the thousands of people now displaced.
Twenty-eight 1000-litre water tanks are being installed around Upolu Island, and extra generators are being organised to improve electricity supply, as power production was cut by about 60 percent as a result of the cyclone.
Further supplies were also sent to Fiji, with 300 large tarpaulins, 20 generators, 10 chainsaws and 150 shovels arriving in Nadi on a commercial flight this afternoon.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said he was pleased the Defence Force was been able to support the authorities in Samoa and Fiji following Cyclone Evan.
"The P3 Orion was used extensively for search and rescue and initial damage assessment flights. The focus is now on the transportation of essential supplies for humanitarian assistance,'' Coleman said.
New Zealand has provided $2.6 million to Samoa and $2.4m to Fiji since Cyclone Evan hit a week ago.
The official death toll after Evan battered Samoa on Thursday last week stands at five, although two people are missing on land (a 17-year-old man from Faleasiu and a 3-year-old carried away by flood waters at Lelata), and nine people remain missing from five fishing boats.
More than 5500 people are still being housed at 45 shelters across the country.
With all Fiji airline flight schedules today back to normal, and most resorts reopened, the country's national carrier Air Pacific has announced discounted rates for people wanting to visit in the new year.
Tourism Fiji said there had been no reports of typhoid, dengue fever or other health hazards following the cyclone, but people were still being advised to boil water.
Chairman Dave Pflieger said about 11,000 Fijians were accommodated in evacuation centres while their homes were repaired.
"Tourism is the mainstay of Fiji's economy and everyone here is working hard to make certain that Fiji's resorts, hotels, and tour operators are back in business,'' he said.