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FEARS FOR PEOPLE IN FIJI's CYCLONE PATH.....this is looking really nasty!!!!

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12/06/2007 04:59 PM
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FEARS FOR PEOPLE IN FIJI's CYCLONE PATH.....this is looking really nasty!!!!
Fears for people in Fiji cyclone's path


From correspondents in Auckland | December 07, 2007

AUTHORITIES in Fiji hold grave fears for people living in the country's second largest island after tropical Cyclone Daman strengthened overnight.

The category three cyclone, which has so far caused only heavy rain in outlying islands, is expected to hit Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu, today.

Senior forecaster with the Fiji Meteorological Service, Matt Boterhoven, said winds were strengthening and Daman was expected to soon become a category four storm.

The storm has an average wind speed of 155km/h with gusts of up to 220km/h he said.

He warned people around the towns of Labasa, Savusavu and Nabouwalu at Vanua Levu were at risk.

There are a number of hotels and resorts in these areas.

"We hold very serious concerns for the safety of the people there," Mr Boterhoven said.

"By midnight we are expecting it to hit Vanua Levu. It won't be until late tomorrow that we will know the damage," he said.

Viliame Puimanu from the country's National Disaster Management Office said houses in rural areas were not strong enough to survive strong winds.

"We are just praying it will move away from Vanua Levu and move into the ocean. We don't need this sort of thing happening here," he said.

"The worst is still to come. We are anticipating strong winds and heavy rain," he said.

He said low-lying areas could experience flooding.

Mr Puimanu had good news for people in Suva though, with the storm moving away from a collision course with Fiji's capital.

"At its current path it looks like it is going to move towards Vanua Levu. Suva will probably experience only gale force winds," he said.
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Re: FEARS FOR PEOPLE IN FIJI's CYCLONE PATH.....this is looking really nasty!!!!
CNN) -- Powerful Tropical Cyclone Daman closed in on Fiji on Friday, threatening the Pacific island chain with home-destroying winds and dangerous floods.

Workers at Bega Lagoon Resort in Fiji prepare for Tropical Cyclone Daman on Friday.

"It's most likely going to be one of the severest cyclones to hit the country in recent times," Fiji Disaster Management Office director Joeli Rokovabe told The Associated Press. Tourist resorts were at risk as well, he added.

About 90,000 people live in the three island groups where the storm will pass, many of them living on subsistence-level fishing and farming.

A Category 4 storm, Daman has triggered a hurricane warning for some of Fiji's larger islands, including Cikobia and northeastern Vanua Levu. Daman's eye is expected to brush Vanua Levu, which is Fiji's second largest island, said meteorologist Alipate Waqaicelua.

Vanua Levu residents and those on the Lau and Lomaiviti island groups have been warned to move from coastal areas to cyclone shelters and other safe buildings, said Rokovabe, according to The Associated Press.

The storm is predicted to bring "winds of very destructive hurricane force" within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of its center, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service.

The island's Nadi Meteorological Center warned that the storm will "cause major flooding" and "pretty serious damage" to islanders' flimsy housing.

Estimated average winds speeds near Daman's center are up to 112 mph (180 kmh) gusting to 161 mph (260 kmh), according to the Fiji Meteorological Service.

"Expect heavy rain and squally thunderstorms, especially over the eastern half of the country," said the service's Web site, which also warned of flash flooding in low-lying areas, rivers and streams.

Daman is moving east at about 9 mph (15 kmh), and is expected to curve to the southeast, the service Web site said.

A Category 4 storm can cause extensive damage to small structures and push seawater up to 6 miles (10 kilometers) inland.

Fiji's northern islands were expected to take the brunt of the storm in the overnight hours, with lesser damage anticipated in the south.

The chain has been hit by 13 tropical cyclones in the past ten years, AP reported. Among the worst was 2003's lower-intensity Cyclone Ami, which killed 17 people when it slammed Vanua Levu, according to AP.

In 1973, 70 people died when Cyclone Lottie sank two ships off the western part of the island chain, AP reported.