Following a two-day suspension at Nadi airport, carriers Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Fiji Airways, have begun transporting tourists away from a battered and bruised Fiji, which endured the worst storm to have ever been recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.
The first category five storm in the nation’s history, Tropical Cyclone Winston has caused significant and widespread damage across Fiji, including to buildings, roads, telecommunications, electricity and water infrastructure.
However, Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Siddiq Koya said communication is still active in Suva, Nadi, Denarau and along the Coral Coast. Mr Koya also confirmed that all visitors to the country were “safe and comfortable”.
“Furthermore, there are no reports of any significant structural damage to the majority of hotels in Viti Levu, except for some properties in the Rakiraki area” he added.
While the aftermath of Winston will no doubt hit the islands hard, the minister said the setback would not “curb the enthusiasm and warm hospitality Fiji is renowned for”.
According to AFP, Care Australia said the storm had claimed the lives of 17 people. But Oxfam regional director Raijeli Nicole said there were “strong concerns that the death toll won’t stop climbing today”. Fiji has declared a month-long state of natural disaster.
Melbourne man Jeremy Bree told the ABC he heard trees being uprooted from his hotel in Denaru, Viti Levu.
“It was pretty amazing just looking out and seeing the wind gusts just absolutely buffeting the trees,” he said of the storm, whose gusts reached some 325 kilometres per hour.
“The noise around was something I've never heard before, it was a real harrowing whine that came through.”
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