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Cyclone Tomas spares Fiji

While tropical Cyclone Tomas continues to linger in the Fijian islands, government and tourism officials are confident the worst is over with the cyclone now tracking south and east away from the main commercial and tourist areas of Viti Levu, the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands.

Fiji’s top properties, including the Radisson Resort
on Denarau Island were spared from Cyclone Tomas

International airlines including national carrier Air Pacific, Air New Zealand and V Australia have all announced flights in and out of Nadi will resume today albeit on delayed schedules. And while schools across the destination remain closed until further notice, it is anticipated that the country’s essential services in the larger populated areas will be fully operational later today (Tue Mar 16).

In a brief issued earlier today by the Fiji Meteorological Service’s director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad at 9am today the eye and core feature of the cyclone were now moving over the Northern Lau Group and would reach Central and Southern Lau later today.

In the Central division, including the capital city Suva, damaging gale force winds with gusts of up to 85km/hr would be expected today with periods of rain.

Prasad said some flash flooding was possible in the Central division but not on a large scale.  TC Tomas, he said, would maintain its intensity for another 12 hours before commencing a gradual weakening trend, he said.

However the cyclone will probably maintain its category three hurricane strength until after leaving Fiji waters in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto said confirmed that while the north-east region of the Fijian archipelago was affected from Tomas, the bulk of the country’s tourism plant located on the big island of Viti Levu (Coral Coast, Denarau, Nadi and Pacific Harbour) and in the nearby Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands had escaped unscathed.

Tuamoto did advise that reports filtering in from hotel and resort operators in the country’s north-east – Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Savusavu – indicated some damage to property but the damage thankfully had been minimal and the national tourist office had not received reports of any tourists having been injured.

However the northern region was continuing to experience strong winds and heavy sea swells.

Tuamoto also confirmed that communication systems cut during the height of the cyclone had now been resumed.

In addition, much of the electrical power in the region shut down for safety reasons in these regions was expected to be resumed in a short time.

Most resorts and hotels in the region had maintained power via generators during the period.

“It would appear that the worst is over,” he said. “We are moving towards the end of our annual cyclone season and while Tomas is one of the bigger weather fronts we have experienced in recent times, none the less we have become very experienced at preparing for these kinds of events.

“We’ve also become very experienced at cleaning up after a cyclone and I am confident that once the worst is over and the all clear has been finally sounded, Fiji will be back to normal within days.

“Any inconvenience this situation has incurred for our international visitors has thus far been kept to an absolute minimum, particularly on Viti Levu and in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands which have not been affected by Tomas.

“Disruption to services in these areas has been limited with the exception of local cruise schedules and inter-island ferry and flight services all of which had been placed on hold until further notice.

“The same applies to all domestic inter-island air services to Savusavu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Lavuka, the Lau Group, Mana Island and Malololailai which are still cancelled until further notice.
“Intra-island services between Nadi and Suva are also on hold until further notice.  But we are confident normal services will be resumed very quickly indeed,” he said.