Relief was mobilized on Saturday to come to the aid of the inhabitants of the Fiji archipelago devastated by Cyclone Yasa which left at least four dead and damage estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.
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The deaths of a 45-year-old man and a three-month-old baby have been confirmed and two other bodies have been found, according to the director of the National Disaster Management Office, Vasiti Soko.
A 70-year-old man died after the roof of his house was blown off and pieces of wood fell on his head.
The toll could increase when contact with the devastated areas is reestablished.
The state of natural disaster has been declared for thirty days. The emergency services are trying to get food and clothing to the most affected areas.
The highest Category 5 cyclone hit Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island on Thursday evening, affecting 90,000 people according to the National Disaster Management Office.
Of the 24,000 people who had to flee their homes to escape the weather, 16,113 were unable to return.
A New Zealand Air Force plane flew over the area on Saturday to assess the damage. Houses and fields were destroyed by the cyclone, which damaged schools, caused flooding and landslides.
“We have received pictures of the island of Kia. We have seen utter devastation. It looks like a war zone, ”Shairana Ali, executive director of Save the Children Fiji, told AFP.
“The houses have been destroyed, nothing remains. People are in dire need of shelter and food. There is obviously enormous psychological damage, ”she said.
The extent of the damage on the Lau Islands, on the eastern part of the archipelago, remains unknown, communications having been cut during the storm.
The priority now is to restore critical infrastructure, communications and ensure the safety of residents, according to Ms. Soko, who assesses the damage at “hundreds of millions of dollars”.
“There were villages that were completely wiped out by the storm surge and the only clothes (the villagers have) are those they wear on their backs,” the head of operations of the village told AFP. Red Cross in Fiji Maciu Nokelvu. “We are providing temporary shelters with tarpaulins and dry clothes,” he says.