Fiji commander amazed there was not greater loss of life

The commander of the Fiji aid mission to the battered Lau island group in the country's east says he is amazed that the death toll is not higher from Cyclone Winston.

The category five storm tore through the Lau group early in the morning on Saturday before last, at 22 kilometres per hour.

Commander Humphrey Tawake said it's the first time in living memory that such a strong cyclone hit at the same time as minor earthquakes, sea surges and tidal waves.

He left the command post at Vanua Balavu island on Wednesday, saying he was shocked at the damage Cyclone Winston wreaked on the island.

"One thing that we must be thankful of is those that lost their lives, was not as much as we would have expected with the level of devastation that is here."

Commander Humphrey Tawake said the people on the most devastated islands will need months to psychologically recover and begin their lives again.