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Asia-Pacific

Aerial photos show cyclone devastation but casualties limited

media A Fijian coastal village, damaged by Cyclone Tomas Reuters

Aerial photographs of Fiji's devastated islands show the full extent of the damage caused by cyclone Tomas. Australia is on alert for a second South Pacific cyclone expected to hit its east coast on the weekend.

Australian and New Zealand aircraft, which have been taking relief supplies to Fiji, have carried out aerial surveys of some of the areas worst hit by the category four Cyclone Tomas on Monday and Tuesday.

A New Zealand transport plane discovered widespread destruction in villages in the northern island of Taveuni. The scale of the damage was worse than that seen on another northern island, Cikobia, earlier this week.

The UN children's organisation, Unicef, estimates that some 150,000 people have been affected by the cyclone, which saw winds of 175 kilometres an hour and whipped-up huge waves which battered many coastal areas.

It has sent basic medical supplies for about 50,000 people in the country’s northern islands on the Australian and New Zealand air force flights on Thursday. Health facilities have been swamped by people needing treatment, shelter and water.

Despite the damage, only one death has so far been confirmed.

Correspondent Asaili Lavey in Suva told RFI that this is due to the measures put in place by the government before the cyclone struck.

“People have taken heed of the warnings much earlier,” he says.

He added that one of the best things the government has done was to ensure the police and military were in place to stop people moving around.

“There was no travelling, no buses," he says. "You need a pass to move around.”

The Australian High Commission in Suva has said nine Australians are yet to be accounted for in the cyclone-hit areas.

Australia also issued an alert on Thursday for twin Cyclone Ului, expected to hit on the weekend. The cyclone watch has been announced for about 800 kilometres of Great Barrier Reef coastline. Hundreds of tourists and residents have evacuated the area.
 

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