Bad weather forces Fiji to close 23 polling venues, 7852 voters affected

Fiji voters turning up in the rain to cast their votes at Nabitu District School in Tailevu on Viti Levu today. Image: Mereoni Mili/Wansolwara

By Wansolwara staff

A total of 7852 voters at more than 20 polling stations will cast their votes at a later date after the Electoral Commission – in consultation with the Fijian Elections Office – today closed 23 polling venues effective immediately as a result of bad weather.

In a statement, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said the FEO received information from presiding officers hat there were some polling stations and venues no longer accessible for voters.

“The FEO tried to wait it out a little to see if the rain would stop and waters would recede but it appears that the waters are rising as I speak, and it has therefore become necessary for me as the Supervisor of Elections to consider adjourning polling at these locations,” he said.

He said the decision was made in accordance with Section 47(2) and consultation with the Electoral Commission under Section 47(3).

Saneem said polling at those locations would commence at a later date, which was feasible for polling.

This would be announced by the Electoral Commission in consultation with the FEO.

Earlier report – voting suspended in 20 Fiji polling venues. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi FB/PMC

-Partners-

The affected areas include Delakado FEO Shed, Natadradave FEO shed, Nasinu community hall, Turagabeci Primary School, Lodoni Primary School, Naivicula District School, Korotale Mandir hall, Raiwasa community hall, Namuaniwaqa Primary School, Mataso Primary School, Rewasasa community hall, Nausori Technical School, Visama Sanatan Dharam Primary School, Naqeledamu Village School, Nukutocia Village shed, Naisoqo Settlement FEO ground shed, Shantikettan Primary School, Naviniivisau community hall, Krishna Janaradhan School, Logani community hall, Matacaucau community hall, Nausori community hall and Gram Sangathan School.

“Any vote cast at the polling station will be cancelled and polling at the affected polling station will take place on the soonest feasible date to be determined and approved by the Electoral Commission,” Saneem said.

“From now until the close of polling, we may have a few more polling stations that will require adjournment because the accessibility levels are reducing and we will be convening media conferences to announce this.”

This article is republished under the content sharing arrangement between the Wansolwara student journalism newspaper of the University of the South Pacific and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Typhoon Mangkhut devastates north of Philippines with at least 25 dead

Typhoon Mangkhut as seen from the foyer of the of the Mira de Polaris hotel about 15 km from the heart of San Nicolas. Video: Jeremaiah M. Opiniano/Cafe Pacific

By Jeremaiah M. Opiniano in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte

Howling winds and heavy volumes of rainfall brought more than a third of the Philippines and its 103 million citizens to a standstill at the weekend with at least 25 people dead.

The width of this typhoon dubbed Mangkhut (local name: Ompong) —900 km in radius— hit communities far and near the eye of the storm, which passed by this province nearly noon yesterday.

Paved streets, mountain systems and agricultural plains here in this municipality are largely unsafe to walk due to the gusty winds and heavy rainfall.

READ MORE: Philippines death toll rises as Typhoon Mangkhut barrels towards China

San Nicolas is a microcosm of what hit the Philippines’ largest island of Luzon.

-Partners-

Mangkhut is perceived to be stronger than 2016’s third strongest typhoon worldwide: Haima (local name: Lawin). Lawin was tagged a “super typhoon” given recorded sustained winds of 225 kph (10-minute standard) and wind gusts of 315 kmh.

Ompong reached its highest sustained winds of 205 kph (just under the 220 kph minimum sustained winds to be tagged technically as a super typhoon), say Filipino meteorologists.

But Mangkut’s width was larger than Haima’s 800 km.

The relatively peaceful eye of Typhoon Mangkhut as experienced at some 15 km from the municipality of San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte province. The photo was taken from Mira de Polaris hotel in San Nicolas. Image: Jeremaiah Opiniano/PMC

Heavily-hit provinces
Heavily-hit provinces were in Luzon’s northern and north-western parts like the province of Cagayan (where its municipality of Baggao was where Mangkhut first made landfall at dawn yesterday).

Then Mangkhut passed by Ilocos Norte, driving a swathe of rain and gusty winds from 10 am to 12 noon.

About 11:45 am, the eye of the storm —the calm portion of the typhoon with no rain and wind for some 15 to 30 minutes — can be seen in neighbouring Batac City, 15 km from San Nicolas.

Nearby provinces Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Kalinga and Apayao felt the strong winds and rain.

However, television and radio reports showed that even provinces and communities that are at least 300 kms south of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte provinces felt the strength of Mangkhut’s rains and winds. That included the Philippines’ capital region, Metro Manila.

Reports are still being collected from across Luzon as to how many people died and are missing.

Estimated damages to crops and property will come after the storm leaves the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) tomorrow morning.

Death, damage estimates
As in every natural disaster, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) collects reports from local governments and provides estimates of deaths and damages to property within a week from the disaster.

Haima or Lawin left 18 Filipinos dead and damaged some 3.74 billion pesos (US$77.6 million) in damages.

It is not that Filipinos, their municipal/city/provincial governments, and the national government led by President Rodrigo Duterte were unprepared for this kind of natural disasters.

The Philippines learned bitter lessons on disaster preparedness and risk reduction the hard way when the world’s strongest typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) rammed coastal and landlocked communities in central Philippines —the Visayas group of Islands.

Haiyan left some 7000-10,000 people dead and a global outpouring of support and disaster aid to the Philippines.

Here in San Nicolas, a small hotel named Mira de Polaris felt the impact of a shattered glass and a huge SUV tyre fall down from the four-storey building.

On Friday, hotel owners had to cut down two trees in the hotel’s facade.

“We might create more damage had we not cut down those trees,” said a male receptionist.

Wrath of Haima
This place also felt the wrath of Haima: the roof a Shell gas station near Mira de Polaris, in Valdez Ave, collapsed in 2016.

This petrol station is still referred to as the “Shell station” by local jeepney drivers, but its markings as a Shell outlet are not as visible as before Haima struck.

President Rodrigo Duterte deployed department secretaries from affected areas to become the faces of national government’s support to affected typhoon victims.

Opening his third year in the presidency after his state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23, Duterte’s officials proposed to Philippine Congress that a department or ministry of disaster resilience be created.

Jeremaiah Opiniano is assistant professor of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) journalism programme. He is also a PhD student (geography) at the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

A father carries his sick child after their ambulance was blocked by a toppled electric post in Baggao town, Cagayan, Philippines, yesterday. Image: Ted Aljibe/Rappler/AFP

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji’s provident fund frees up $5.3m for natural disaster assistance

A spate of tropical cyclones has hit Fiji and other Pacific Islands in the past few months, causing widespread damage and flooding in low-lying areas. Image: Dept of Information/Wansolwara

By Wansolwara News staff

The Fiji National Provident Fund has released $5.33 million in flood assistance funds to 6351 members in the aftermath of two recently devastating cyclones that passed through the Fiji islands group.

Tropical Cyclone Josie and TC Keni brought torrential rain and strong winds, causing massive flooding in most parts of the Western Division and other low-lying areas around the country.

The FNPF had stepped in to offer affected members some relief through its natural disaster assistance initiative.

In a statement, FNPF chief executive officer Jaoji Koroi said inspection of the worst affected areas had been completed.

He said inspection teams distributed 13,646 forms so far.

“We’ve shifted our focus to the processing of applications because most of the areas that were identified have been covered by our inspection teams,” he said.

-Partners-

“The teams have been conducting follow up visits since Tuesday to members who had missed out during the initial inspection in their respective areas.

“We continue to receive queries from members and we’ve taken note of the genuine cases while at the same time advising those who were not affected that this assistance is not for them.”

Koroi said FNPF assistance would also be extended to Kadavu next week, adding two teams would be in Vunisea, which had been identified as the worst affected area on the island.

“We encourage affected members in Kadavu to ensure that they are ready with all their requirements and provide these to our teams when they are there,” Koroi said.

The fund has been liaising with the Divisional Commissioners during the natural disaster response phase and continues to work closely with them as it provides the relevant assistance to its members living in the affected areas.

“Members are reminded again that the fund is a retirement savings scheme and withdrawals ultimately reduces their savings,” Koroi said.

Fiji military clear debris and fallen trees at Vunisea Government Station, Kadavu. Image: Dept of Information/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Urgent call for help on Kadavu island after Keni’s Fiji devastation

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Urgent call for help on Kadavu island after Keni’s Fiji devastation

This house at Namara Village in Sanima on Kadavu had its roof blown off. Image: The Fiji Times

By Vilimaina Naqelevuki in Suva

A resort owner on Kadavu has called on Fijians to urgently assist those on the island after the devastation caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Keni this week.

Matava Eco Resort director Mark O’Brien said children and women were the most affected and the resort was housing several families who had lost everything in the category 3 cyclone.

“We’re looking after three families at the moment, but I know Vacalea Village lost up to seven houses and most of their houses were damaged as well,” O’Brien said.

READ MORE: Wintry storm batters NZ

He said most of their yaqona plantations were damaged and they were still trying to fix significant damage to their resort.

“Mainly just all kava, all the plantation of the farms are all ruined, literally all ruined,” O’Brien said.

-Partners-

“Even here in Matava, we have 300 banana trees, there’s a big garden so it’s all gone, finished. All the banana trees and all the mango trees and avocado trees are all gone.

“A man I talked to who’s about 80 years old said it’s the worst storm he had ever seen to hit this part of Fiji.”

‘Be prepared’ plea by editor
In today’s Fiji Times editorial, editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, said the revelation that 8147 people on the island of Kadavu were in urgent need of food and water in the wake of severe TC Keni was a concern.

But he also appealed to Fiji islanders to be better prepared for the “harsh reality” of life with cyclones.

Keni swept through the [Kadavu] island, leaving in its wake a trail of destruction. It affected all 75 villages on Tuesday.

“The scenarios that have unfolded on Kadavu are not new. This is the harsh reality of life in our nation,” said Wesley.

“Cyclones are part of our lives. They have not just come out of the woodworks so to speak.

“It pays to be prepared. People of Kadavu said they prepared for the cyclone.

“The system, in the end though, was strong. Our cyclone season extends from November through to April annually.

“It is the way things are in Fiji.

“As we go about our chores today, let us remember those who are less fortunate than us.”

Vilimaina Naqelevuki is a Fiji Times reporter.

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Devastating Cyclone Keni moves out of Fijian waters, clean up begins

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Devastating Cyclone Keni moves out of Fijian waters, clean up begins

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Cyclone Keni has moved out of Fijian waters and lies about 275km south-southwest of the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa, reports Pacnews.

The Fiji Met Service said the cyclone still remains a category three storm, with winds between 130 and 185km/h still blowing.

At its peak, average wind gusts were up to 195km/h.

Keni was forecast to weaken as it continued to move southeast into cooler waters.

Within the next 18 hours the storm could cease to be a cyclone, said Met Service.

Cyclone Keni wreaked havoc as it passed the southern islands of Fiji overnight bringing destructive winds and downpours causing flooding.

-Partners-

The Fiji government said all schools being used as evacuation centres would remain closed today as well as all schools on Kadavu

Kadavu suffers direct hit
Some homes collapsed and a school suffered serious damage on Kadavu at the height of Tropical Cyclone Keni last night, reports the Fiji Sun.

Anare Leweniqila, director of National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), said Kadavu appeared to be the worst hit area.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said yesterday that the government had received reports of damage to homes in Kadavu and the school in Vunisea.

“At 5pm this afternoon TC Keni is still very much in our waters, so there will be damaging winds,” said Bainimarama.

Cyclone Keni did not make landfall and it was approximately 95 km east south east of Kadavu. It was moving away last night.

Leweniqila said they would send an assessment team to Kadavu as soon as the weather permitted.

He said they did not have details of the damage.

Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu confirmed receiving a report that some houses had been destroyed.

“The last report I received from the village was some dwelling houses had fallen,” he said.

He said communication to Kadavu was cut off before he could get more details.

In an earlier interview before Cyclone Keni hit, the headman (turaganikoro), Kalivati Tukutukulevu, said the village was prepared and they had eight evacuation centres, including the village hall.

Tukutukulevu said they were experiencing strong winds and they were prepared for the cyclone.

“Villages of Ono, Buliya, Dravuni and Kokomo have been told to move to their evacuation centres,” he said.

The Fiji island of Kadavu suffered a direct hit with homes destroyed, trees uprooted and boats capsized on the island’s south side.

Storm ‘came out of nowhere’
Luke Kerchevale, co-owner of Matava Resort on Kadavu, said the storm seemed to come out of nowhere, reports Pacnews.

“Quite a large boat is capsized because we couldn’t get it to shelter soon enough. We’ve had a number of huge mango trees come down on a lot of our buildings,” said Kerchevale.

Kerchevale and co-owner Mark, who are both from Australia, said thankfully all of their staff and guests were safe but Kerchevale said they were really worried for people in the nearby villages.

“They are really struggling. A lot of the villages have lost their houses completely. We have got a small village next to us who have had to do a walk around the mountain to get to us for shelter because they have lost everything where they are…it was pretty full on,” Kerchevale said.

Kerchevale said they would head out to check on people in the villages once they were sure the cyclone had passed and they were able to clear debris from around the resort.

On the nearby island of Ono-Kadavu, local Paul Ragede said strong winds from the cyclone raged for over two hours.

Ragede said his village was fortunate that a lot of their buildings were strong structures but people he has contacted at Vunisea, the main government station on Kadavu, say there has been a lot of destruction.

‘Like pieces of paper’
“It is really bad. The secondary school library there at Vunisea has gone down, the post master’s office, root crops and all the big big trees have been like folded as if they were pieces of paper,” Ragede said.

Fiji’s meteorological service said Nadi and the south-west of Viti Levu have escaped the worst effects of the Tropical Cyclone.

Fijian Metservice director Ravindra Kumar said the category three system changed direction late on Tuesday afternoon and sped up towards the south-east.

Kumar said this meant the strongest hurricane force winds were over water and didn’t make land-fall on Viti Levu. 

Meanwhile, seven teams from the Fiji Red Cross Society (FRCS) are ready to be deployed as soon as the flood waters recede in flooded areas in the Western Division, reports Pacnews.

FRCS Spokesperson Maciu Bolaitamana said they were currently monitoring the situation, as most parts of the Western Division are flooded.

“First and foremost is to go out into the field and make our assessment and come back and analyse these assessments and see where the distribution fits in these areas,” said Bolaitamana.

Bolaitamana said they would only distribute non-food items, including hygiene kits, dignity kits for pregnant mothers, water cans and purification tablets.

Clean-up begins
Residents in the West have begun cleaning up following the devastation caused by Cyclone Keni, reports FBC News.

Municipal council workers in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba have begun clearing debris that was brought in by flooding and strong winds.

Fiji Electricity Authority and Water Authority officials are also working to restore power and water supply.

People who were taking shelter at around 80 evacuation centres are expected to return to their homes today.

It will take some time for the people to get their lives and homes back to normal.

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‘We’re stuck in the river – please come quickly’ cry before being swept away

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘We’re stuck in the river – please come quickly’ cry before being swept away

Tragically drowned … Sheenal Mudliar , pictured with her surviving husband Sandeep Mudliar. Image: The Fiji Times

By Felix Chaudhary in Lautoka

“We’re stuck in the river, please come quickly.”

These were the last words spoken by a distraught daughter to her father-in-law as floods engulfed the vehicle she was travelling in.

Sheenal Mudliar, 25, and her father, Veer Goundar, had left Damodran Mudliar’s Uciwai home in Nadi about 4.30am on Sunday for Nadi International Airport to pick up her younger brother who was arriving from New Zealand.

About 15 minutes later she was calling for help.

“The rain was pouring and the wind was also quite strong, and when I got to the Uciwai Bridge at about 5.10am, I couldn’t see anything,” the distraught canegrower said.

“My daughter-in-law’s voice kept going round and round in my head and I got out of my car with a friend and we crossed to the bridge to try and look for them.”

-Partners-

Mudliar said the current was strong which made the search difficult.

‘We kept looking’
“We kept looking for about half-an-hour and when the water level went down a little bit, I drove to Nawai Police Post and reported the matter.”

Sheenal’s husband, Sandeep, was too grief-stricken to speak about the tragedy.

A search party organised by the family with the assistance of nearby villagers recovered Mudliar’s body at 9.30am on Sunday and Goundar was found about 4.30pm the same day.

Mudliar said the family was awaiting police to complete post-mortem examinations before making funeral arrangements.

Evacuation centres not ready
Evacuation centres were unprepared for the flooding and responses were slow.

No water, no food and no assistance for infants, young children and the elderly was the scene at St Andrews Primary School, Nadi, yesterday.

More than 500 people sought shelter there early Sunday morning after the Nawaka and Namotomoto rivers broke their banks.

Between the hours of 5am to 8am, residents of Nawaka Village and Nawajikuma and Nawaka tramline settlements waded through waist deep fast-flowing floodwater to seek shelter at St Andrews.

However, when they got to the school, the gates were locked.

The evacuees said they had no option but to climb over and enter the school.

“They had nowhere else to go and they only know St Andrews, it’s a safe place for them,” said Litia Taylor, a Nawaka resident and community liaison.

Evacuees reduced
When The Fiji Times arrived at the school yesterday morning, the number of evacuees had been reduced to 275.

“When evacuees arrived here, the school had not been informed that it was to open as an evacuation centre.

“We had people sitting in the veranda, many of them were shivering because they were wet from the floodwaters and we had mothers with young children who had no warm clothes or food.

“The classrooms were opened up about 11am.

“I have assisted government teams that visit St Andrews during past disasters and this has got to be the worst situation we have ever faced.

“There was no drinking water and whatever was coming out of the taps was brown and dirty.

“What was very disappointing is that no one from the District Officer Nadi’s office has visited the school to see what the needs are.”

When contacted yesterday morning, acting DO Nadi Faiyaz Ali said he was in Nausori and was making his way to Nadi.

Ali said his team was on the ground and conducting assessments of all evacuation centres in Nadi.

‘Worse than 2009 floods’
Local Government Minister Parveen Kumar described the crisis as worse than the 2009 floods, reports The Fiji Times‘ Shayal Devi.

He said this after surveying Ba’s central business district and residential areas that had been hit by floods from Tropical Cyclone Josie.

He provided meals and rations as part of immediate relief assistance.

“I can say without any hesitation that this is worse than 2009,” Kumar said.

“Every household has the same story in a sense that within a few minutes, the water came in and they were not able to save anything.”

Lautoka-based Felix Chaudhary is a senior journalist with The Fiji Times.

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‘Scary’ floodwaters engulf homes in western Fiji as 4 die over Easter

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: ‘Scary’ floodwaters engulf homes in western Fiji as 4 die over Easter

A vehicle is swept away into a drain by strong currents at Waimalika in Sabeto, Nadi, in western Fiji yesterday. Image: Baljeet Singh/The Fiji Times

By Felix Chaudhary in Lautoka

“It was scary, we’ve never seen anything like it.”

That’s how a Natabua, Lautoka, man described the experience residents had as they fled to higher ground early yesterday after “raging floodwaters” engulfed their homes.

Tropical Cyclone Josie never made landfall but the storm dumped a lethal amount of rainfall over Easter weekend that resulted in four confirmed deaths and one missing person’s report.

As life-threatening floodwaters continued to rise late yesterday in at least two towns in the Western Division, the National Disaster Management Office confirmed that 18 evacuation centres had been activated in Nadi, Lautoka and Nadroga.

Late yesterday the police also advised people living in low-lying areas and near waterways to move to higher ground.

Punishing and unrelenting overnight rain drenched the entire Western Division, flooding many homes, sweeping away cars, disrupting flights, damaging crops, and forcing the closure of many roads.

-Partners-

The first reported tragedy was that of Sheenal Mudliar, 25, and her father Veer Gounder, 55.

They were travelling in a vehicle that was swept off a bridge at Uciwai on the outskirts of Nadi yesterday morning.

Police recover bodies
Police managed to recover both bodies yesterday.

In Ba, Saroj Lata, 50, of Vatulaulau, reportedly lost her life while attempting to flee floodwaters that had engulfed her home. The body of a 55-year-old male was also recovered in Lautoka.

In Nadi, 21-year-old hotel worker Ilaisa Nabou went missing while attempting to cross a waterway in Sabeto.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon the Navua River also broke its banks.

In Lautoka, Sekiva Knight said the homes located on the corner of the Queens and Natabua roads were almost completely engulfed by floodwater.

“That place usually floods on the road and in their compounds,” he said.

“This is the first time that the floodwaters covered their homes with up to almost 2m of water.

Water to ceiling
“Some of the houses had water almost up to the ceiling.

“People were awoken by the floods at about 5am and they just got up, grabbed their loved ones and ran.

“They had no time to collect any belongings or valuables, they even left their cars behind.”

Knight said a Chinese family was trapped inside their home and were unable to leave because of the strength of the current.

He said military officers rescued the family about 7am.

Also in Lautoka, residents of Qaliwalu settlement were forced to flee their homes at about 4am after the Saru river burst its banks.

Ravindra Lal, a resident, helped evacuate three families and moved them to higher ground.

“This settlement always floods but this time the flood was different,” he said.

“It came in so fast and the current was so strong. They have lost everything.”

Resurrection services
Serafina Silaitoga reports from Labasa that hundreds of Fijians braved the rainy and cold weather condition to celebrate Christian resurrection church services in the North over Easter weekend.

Believers of the Nasea Methodist Church Sunday School programme that included primary and secondary school students organised a weekend camp aimed at enhancing their spiritual growth.

Catholics travelled from around the northern island of Vanua Levu to be part of the resurrection mass on Saturday night in Labasa, many sitting bravely in partially wet clothes during the service.

Felix Chaudhary is a senior Fiji Times journalist.

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PNG quake-hit communities plead for relief aid to ‘bypass’ government

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: PNG quake-hit communities plead for relief aid to ‘bypass’ government

As relief supplies continue to be delivered to earthquake affected communities, there is another looming disaster over water, reports EMTV News.

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

People in earthquake-affected areas of Papua New Guinea’s Highlands have asked international agencies to bypass the national government when providing relief.

The PNG Government has admitted that its response to the earthquake has been slow, hampered by damage to roads and access to funding.

In Koroba in Hela Province, local leader Stanley Hogga Piawi told the ABC’s PNG correspondent Eric Tlozek that more than two weeks after the 7.5 magnitude quake, people were still waiting for help.

LISTEN: Angry Highlanders call on relief agencies to sidestep PNG government

Continuous rain is hampering relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated regions of the Highlands, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

-Partners-

The wet may continue for a few more days as helicopters, the mainstay of the relief efforts, are now limited in the operation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) office has warned of a “high risk” of landslides, flooding and a slight chance of a tropical cyclone. The wet season has finally extended into the Southern and Highlands regions, the NWS said yesterday.

As Papua New Guinea experiences the wet season and unusual natural disasters, the NWS forecasting and warning centre assistant director Jimmy Gomoga is now urging people to listen to the radio stations for weather warnings updates.

Aircraft use restricted
The Australian and New Zealand defence forces said yesterday they had limited the use of their lighter aircraft due to bad weather.

The NWS said the wet season normally set in about December until late May when the dry season begins.

“According to the latest analysis from the weather office, we are in a weak La Nina phase and will mean higher rainfalls across the mainland PNG and mostly over the Southern region with high risk of flooding in the Momase, Highlands and Southern regions, high risk of landslides in the Highlands and deforested areas and 30 to 40 per cent chance of a tropical cyclone forming or passing within PNG,” Gomoga said.

He said the wet season triggered tropical cyclones so people living along coastal waters, particularly along the Solomon Sea and Coral Sea, must listen to weather warnings on the radio and take precautions.

“This weather we are experiencing will continue for the next 24 hours and may continue as the country is still in the wet season,” Gomoga said.

“The peak period has already passed and the month of April and May are the transitional periods and eventually into dry season which kicks into in the month of June.”

In the meantime, the weather office is closely monitoring the ocean currents in possibility of a tropical cyclone.

Water shortage ‘looming disaster’
While relief supplies continue to be delivered to earthquake-affected communities, a lack of water is proving to be a looming disaster, reports EMTV News.

In a briefing, Oil Search Limited managing director Peter Botten said the lack of access to clean water sources for many communities had increased the risk of sickness.

The company is now working with its partners, including state agencies, in an effort to deliver clean water to communities, to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

Among its relief efforts, Oil Search has deployed a dedicated medical team to reach affected communities – these teams have already noted an increase in water-borne diseases, with several medical evacuations already carried out.

Australian doctors to help
Australian Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has announced Australian doctors would come to Papua New Guinea to help medical teams in earthquake-affected areas, as fear of water-borne diseases emerge, reports The National and as also reported earlier by Asia Pacific Report.

“We know that over the next few days or weeks, most of the water-borne diseases will start affecting some of the population in the area. We have to lift our presence in medical support that we will have to extend to them,” O’Neill said.

“Dr Temu [Health Minister Sir Puka] has already cleared for the Australian doctors to come and help us…They will come and help our own medical specialists which the Health Department is putting together to dispatch to the remotest communities throughout the country.”

Sir Puka said they were mobilising a team from the Port Moresby General Hospital.
“We have formally requested the Australian government [to send doctors] because Australian doctors in emergency situations are well organised,” Sir Puka said.

“So we have asked them for assistance which will complement what we have.”

O’Neill said relief efforts were ongoing, reports The National.

Remote communities
“We are starting to reach many of the remote communities, supplying medicine, food and relief supply to the provinces affected,” he said, adding that the district development authorities in areas being allocated funding were assisting the people “which we are not able to reach”.

“Most of the members of Parliament and the district chief executive officers have been trying to mobilise the supplies and in particular medicine, and getting the injured and the sick out of the areas that have been affected,” he said.

He added that commitments, towards the government’s relief efforts so far had exceeded K100 million.

It included donations from governments – “private sector donations coming through is well over K5 million.”

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Ardern mission for post-Gita visit to Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Ardern mission for post-Gita visit to Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand government’s Pacific Mission will take place early next month and travel to Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands.

“It will be an honour to have the Pacific Mission led by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and is a further sign of the importance New Zealand attaches to our Pacific neighbours,” Peters said, confirming the dates as March 4-9.

“The government carefully considered whether the Pacific Mission would impose a burden on Tonga and Samoa in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita.”

“However the government decided to proceed to allow the delegation to see first-hand the ongoing response. We will also discuss with the governments of Tonga and Samoa, as much as able to be learned at this point, what support is required for long-term recovery,” he said.

The Pacific Mission delegation is made up of MPs, Pasifika community leaders, and NGO representatives.

The delegation size is smaller this year with the mission changing focus because of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

“New Zealand’s close ties with Samoa and Tonga are built on a deep bilateral partnership, and a shared commitment to Pacific regionalism. Niue and Cook Islands are constitutional partners for New Zealand and we share citizenship as well as a set of mutual obligations and responsibilities,” Peters said.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Tonga’s Parliament seeks temporary home after Gita smashed old House

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tonga’s Parliament seeks temporary home after Gita smashed old House

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

As Tonga struggles to recover from Cyclone Gita, authorities are looking for somewhere to host the next Parliamentary sessions next month.

Parliament needs a place to meet between March 1-15 so MPs can process bills and laws that are required for the government’s 2018-2019 budget.

A Parliamentary spokesperson said the Speaker’s office was working urgently to decide on a suitable venue before informing all Members of Parliament.

As Kaniva News reported yesterday, Tonga’s Parliament House, which is more than a century old, was flattened by tropical cyclone Gita.

Australia and New Zealand have already sent personnel and humanitarian supplies, including tarpaulins and water purification tablets to Tonga.

The New Zealand government had pledged $750,000 to help rescue and relief operations and an RNZAF Hercules would fly emergency relief supplies to the kingdom.

An RAAF C-17A Globemaster flew to Tonga with emergency relief supplies last night.

Tongan proposal to China
As Kaniva News reported last year, Tonga has submitted a proposal to the Chinese government to fund a new Parliament House.

The Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, Wang Baodong, was welcomed at the Legislative Assembly in June 2017.

It was not immediately clear whether Tongan and Chinese authorities have taken another look at the proposal after Parliament was levelled on Monday or not.

Cyclone Gita, a category four storm, struck Tonga’s main island Tongatapu and its nearby island ‘Eua on Monday, causing widespread damage.

Electricity lines were downed, roofs were torn off houses by the high winds and crops were destroyed.

Disaster Management Minister Poasi Tei told reporters in Nuku’alofa yesterday 119 homes were completely destroyed and 1131 with minor damages while 4500 people were at the 108 evacuation centres in Tongatapu.

Tonga Power workers have restored power in some areas in Tongatapu yesterday afternoon.

The Tonga Water Board announced that water supplies had been restored to almost all areas of Nuku’alofa.

In earlier reports, residents were finding it more difficult to cope with the aftermath because of lack of power which had also affected water supplies, communication and petrol stations.

Some people in Houmakelikao went to the Minister of Police’s residence and charged their mobile phones using electric generated from the Minster’s electric power generator.

The town of Houma in Tongatapu lost its water supply after their two-tank water supplier was destroyed by Gita.

The town’s residents took to Facebook to ask their community members overseas to help donate funding for a new water supplier.

Two deaths reported
As Kaniva News reported, two deaths have been confirmed. A 72-year-old man from Fua’amotu died at Vaiola Hospital.

Minister Poasi Tei told Kaniva News yesterday the impact of the cyclone might have contributed to the old man’s death.

RNZI quoted Lord Fusitu’a as saying an elderly woman died after her house was “completely blown away from her while she was in it.”

Police also confirmed three major injuries and 30 minor injuries on Tongatapu as a result of Gita.

Asia Pacific Report republishes some Kaniva News articles as a collaboration project.