Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Cyclone Winston's fury evident throughout Fiji

Sheets of corrugated iron lie in flattened grass on a roadside just north of Nadi. Gnarled and twisted, this is where they landed when Winston was finished with them. Crumpled and discarded like bits of waste paper.

Less than a minute out of the city on the main road to Lautoka, Winston's fury is evident. Almost every tree along the highway is uprooted or split, branches ripped off during the cyclone littering each side of the road and damming creeks.

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Road signs and billboards have been plucked from the ground like children's toys. A concrete power pole leans precariously at an angle, looking like the slightest breeze will send it crashing down.

The road to Lautoka is busy. Locals traipse up and down and cars fill the spaces.

People mill about petrol stations and markets, sitting in groups wherever there is light. Some huddle around an ATM and others park their cars and use the headlights to see each other.

Most of the power is still out and, in the dusk, men scale ladders to attempt power line repairs.

Houses along this main stretch are still in darkness, the only sign of life is vehicle lights in yards and the flicker of candles and glow of white, battery-powered lamps through windows.


Through one window we see a family sitting in their living room, their faces barely illuminated by a single flame.

Security guards man supermarkets and petrol stations which are besieged by people buying whatever they can - food, torches, water and fuel for generators.

The petrol stations are frenetic, at least the ones that are open and operating.

The further you get from Nadi, the darker it becomes. There is nothing to light up the north. The town of Lautoka is dark except for the glow of the McDonald's sign and the sporadic flashes of lightning.

A tree blocks a road after it was blown down by the encroaching cyclone Winston in Nakasi, Fiji. Photo / AP
A tree blocks a road after it was blown down by the encroaching cyclone Winston in Nakasi, Fiji. Photo / AP

We've been in Fiji for an hour and have only had a minute glimpse of the mess left by Cyclone Winston, but it is clear from the debris in this area, one of the least affected, that it was horrific.

We are told that the further north we go, the worse the carnage will be. That is where Winston hit the hardest, taking homes and lives.

The Herald will continue to report from Viti Levu, Fiji throughout the day.

- NZ Herald

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