The Fijian Government has announced a State of Natural Disaster for the whole of Fiji as severe tropical cyclone Yasa passes through Yasawa-i-rara and projected to make landfall in Bua tonight with destructive 240km/hr winds and life-threatening storm surges.
The declaration, effective for 30 days from 16 December, comes after authorities’ estimated that the impact of the category five system could be wide-reaching, larger than TC Winston in 2016, encompassing the whole of Fiji. In a social media update, Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had said that over 850,000 Fijians are in the direct path of TC Yasa – equating to more than 95 per cent of Fiji’s population.
The declaration empowers authorities, among other things, to acquire or seize control of properties including land/sea/air transportation in the interest of efficient response and relief efforts.
Persons who do not adhere to directives faces a fine of up to $2,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months. Fijian authorities are appealing with the general public to adhere to directives to ensure better use of resources.
Meanwhile, the Fiji Meteorological Office reiterates calls for zero complacency at all times, warning that destructive winds are likely to begin several hours before the cyclone centre passes overhead or nearby.
Winds can cause widespread damage to properties and infrastructures, severe disruption to electrical power distribution and communication services, uproot big trees and cause total damage to crops and vegetation,Fiji Met on TC Yasa’s impact.
“Close to its centre the cyclone is expected to have average winds up to 240 km/hr with momentary gusts to 345 km/hr. The cyclone is moving east-southeast at about 13 knots or 24km/hr.”
“Expect periods of heavy rain and squally thunderstorms. There’s risk of flash flooding of low lying and flood-prone areas. Landslides are likely especially with continuous heavy falls. Extremely rough seas having a significant wave height of 14m or more and damaging heavy swells. Storm surge with sea flooding of low lying coastal areas expected during high tides, with storm surge heights up to 3 meters expected along the coast when the cyclone centre passes nearby. “Fiji Met
TC Yasa is expected to exit Fiji waters Friday evening.
Photo: Two children cling to their father for safety in Savusavu town today as TC Yasa nears Vanua Levu. Lusi Banuve-Leqa