Fiji battening down for cyclone, as floods claim two victims
FIJI is battening down for another tropical cyclone, just weeks after the most powerful storm in the Pacific nation's history left 44 people dead, crippled the country's infrastructure and left thousands homeless.
The Fiji Meteorological Service said Tropical Cyclone Zena, which has been upgraded to a category 3 system, was north west of Nadi earlier today, intensifying as it approached and prompting extreme weather warnings across the nation.
Fiji Meteorological Service acting director Misaele Funaki said the system is expected to maintain its current strength.
A category 3 system can cause some roof and structural damage and weak structures will be destroyed.
According to the fijivillage.com website, Cyclone Zena currently has winds of 120 kilometres per hour gusting to 170 kilometres per hour.
Warnings have gone out for the central Lau and Lomaiviti island groups to prepare for damaging winds and flooding as Tropical Cyclone Zena tracks towards to the disaster-ravaged Pacific island nation.
The Fiji Times said that people living in Beqa, Yanuca and Kadavu and coastal parts of Viti Levu should expect strong winds.
According to fijivillage.com, current forecasts indicate that the centre of Cyclone Zena is likely to pass just below Sigatoka tonight into tomorrow morning before moving between Suva and Kadavu just after sunrise tomorrow.
Very strong winds will be felt in all land areas in Viti Levu from late this afternoon to tomorrow morning. People were being warned that damaging winds would begin several hours before the centre passed overhead or nearby and to be prepared for heavy rain and flooding, especially from storm surges along the coastline.
The country is still recovering from Cyclone Winston, a category five storm that left a trail of destruction in northern and western parts of Fiji in February.
Also in recent days there has been flooding in a number of areas, especially on the main island of Viti Levu, caused by the brewing storm system.
While Cyclone Zena is yet to touchdown in Fiji, torrential rain has already hit the nation causing widespread flooding in parts causing the death of at least one person.
The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported a 70-year-old man was found floating in the Sabeto River on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile a 19-year-old girl was reported missing after being washed away by strong currents in the river on Viti Levu.
Numerous roads have been closed and people living in temporary shelter have been told to seek shelter elsewhere in a nearby evacuation centre.
All schools in the country have been closed until further notice.