Where: Suva, Fiji

March 16, 2010 : Fiji declared a state of emergency in the northern and eastern parts of the country after they were struck by a tropical cyclone, Cyclone Tomas. The eastern Lau group of islands was the worst affected. The country’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, also sustained severe damage.

Over 17,000 people left their homes and fled to evacuation shelters as the storm raged. There were reports of deaths in some places but the numbers were not known. In northern Fiji houses and crops were damaged by winds. Some buildings were washed away by floods. In some areas, there were sea surges and the sea waters rose as high as 7metres (23feet). These caused floods which did not subside for 36 hours.

Schools all over the country closed down. Public services were suspended, and a nation-wide curfew was imposed. Communications to some islands including Cikobia and Qelelevu failed. For Fijians, it was the worst cyclone in living memory.

Fiji’s National Disaster Council organised troops to take food, water and other necessities to the worst-hit areas. Australia and New Zealand have been sending aid by air. Australia’s foreign ministry pledged a sum of one million dollars in aid with an assurance of more after the damage had been assessed.

Cyclone Tomas has been described as a category four storm. The severity of hurricanes is measured by the Saffir-Simpson scale, which measures a storm by the damage it causes. Like all hurricanes and tropical storms, Cyclone Tomas began to weaken as it moved away.

Most hurricanes or cyclones are given a name from an existing list of storm names. This is done at the forecast centre where the cyclone is first detected, provided it is a storm of some intensity.

Related Links – If you want to know more about Fiji or Cyclones:
Fiji: Where is it? Click here to see it on the map
Fiji: Country profile
What is a cyclone?
Fiji: Latest news about Cyclone in Fiji
Fiji: Images from Fiji
Fiji: More about Fiji

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Filed under: world news
Tags: #australia, #storms, #cyclone, #floods

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