Flash floods cause havoc in Fiji

NZ Newswire Updated March 30, 2012, 8:21 pm

Flash flooding has cut highways and forced evacuations in Fiji, with residents sheltering from rising waters on rooftops as authorities scrambled to find rescue boats.

Flights to Fiji's only international airport, in Nadi, have been cancelled.

Heavy rains caused rivers to burst their banks in the west of the main island Viti Levu, taking water levels higher than those experienced during a six-day deluge in January which claimed 11 lives, meteorologists said.

All flights in and out of Nadi were cancelled on Friday.

However, an Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Nadi was due to depart as scheduled at 10.30am on Saturday, a spokesman told NZ Newswire.

He said the airline would continue to monitor the situation at the airport.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was monitoring the situation closely and was in contact with local officials in Fiji.

A spokeswoman advised travellers to check with their airlines regarding flights in and out of the country.

New Zealanders in Fiji were also advised to monitor local media reports and follow local authorities' instructions.

Police said they were not aware of any deaths in the latest disaster, which also cut off other centres including Ba, Lautoka, Rakiraki and Sigatoka.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reports that some Nadi businesses have been broken into amidst the floods and there were unconfirmed reports of looting in Ba.

The disaster management office, Dismac, said a "massive" number of people were stranded on rooftops awaiting rescue and appealed for anyone with a boat to help relief efforts.

"We've got a lot of reports of people on rooftops, it's quite a massive number," Dismac director Pajiliai Dobui told reporters.

"If people in these areas have boats, we're asking them to make them available, as the little we have is not enough."

Up to 11 evacuation centres have opened although no figures detailing how many people were sheltering were immediately available.

Mr Dobui said the flooding levels in Fiji's west were higher than January.

The National Weather Forecasting Centre predicted the rain would continue until at least Sunday, accompanied by strong winds on Saturday.

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