Fiji govt has latest estimate on disaster costs

The latest estimates on the damage caused by Cyclone Winston in Fiji are US$226 million.

Fiji TV reports damage to Fiji's roading infrastructure has been put at US$64 million.

The agriculture sector is estimated to face costs of more than US$100 million and education's losses are US$25 million.

18,154 homes and buildings were damaged by the cyclone.

The National Disaster Management Office's director, Akapusi Tuifagalele, says the focus is on rebuilding schools after more than 240 around the country suffered damage.

Due to extensive infrastructure damage, 25 schools remain closed, while another 21 schools are yet to re-open because they are still being used as evacuation centres.

Charity helps destitute

A church pastor in a poor housing settlement in Fiji said a New Zealand-based charity had helped provide for 71 families before any government aid arrived.

The Lovu Settlement, north of Lautoka, wasn't hit as hard as towns further to the north on Viti Levu and some of the outer eastern islands.

But the destitute state of the housing estate meant that some houses were blown over and the subsequent flooding affected the water supply and waste drainage.

Although disaster officials visited the settlement, there were no official rations delivered, but the Tear Fund organised supplies to be delivered.

The pastor of the Lovu Settlement's C3 church, Michael Naisau, said he was expecting official aid soon.

"What they mentioned to us, is that it was going to be about this week, if not this week, by early next week. Apart from the food distribution that we have done, we have also done clothing and the tarpaulins."

Michael Naisau said some families were living in more heavy-duty tents as well.


Radio New Zealand International