Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fiji storm death toll reaches 29 after island leveled

In this Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 aerial photo supplied by the New Zealand Defense Force, debris is scattered around damaged buildings at Muamua on Vanua Blava Island in Fiji, after Cyclone Winston tore through the island nation. Fijians were finally able to venture outside Monday after authorities lifted a curfew but much of the country remained without electricity in the wake of a ferocious cyclone that left at least six people dead and destroyed hundreds of homes.

He said officials also have fears about nearby Taveuni Island, home to about 12,000 people, because they’ve managed to have only limited contact with people there.

Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through the Pacific Island chain Saturday and early Sunday, reached 177 miles (285 kilometers) per hour, making it the strongest storm in Fiji’s recorded history.

Getting emergency supplies to the group’s far-flung islands and remote communities has been the Fiji government’s top priority.

Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, said the aerial footage coming in showed a corridor of destruction over places like Koro Island.

“The imagery is heartbreaking,” she said. “You’re looking down and expecting to see a village and instead you’re seeing a field of debris.” She said one priority is to ensure children get back to school because studies have shown it helps them recover faster emotionally.

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