Floods in Fiji kill 8; thousands seek shelter

/ Source: The Associated Press

Authorities rushed on Monday to deliver clean drinking water and other supplies to thousands of villagers who fled flooding from tropical storms that have killed at least eight people on this Pacific island nation.

The government declared a state of emergency in the hardest-hit western districts of the main island of Viti Levu, where dozens of international resorts are located. There have been no reports of tourists in trouble in that area.

The airport in Nadi, the island's main link to the outside, remained opened, but the city was flooded and some tourists were being turned back to their points of origin.

Floodwaters were slowly subsiding Monday in some of the villages worst hit, the government said, but forecasters predicted more heavy rain later this week.

"There's another depression heading toward Fiji within the next two days and that will bring an additional threat," Aisea Qumihajelo, the acting chief of disaster management, told The Associated Press on Monday.

Crops washed out
Four days of torrential rains have flooded the towns of Nadi, Ba, Sigatoka and Labasa and many rural villages on Viti Levu, he said. Sugar cane crops have been washed out, roads severed and bridges submerged by surging floodwaters.

Authorities said six people have drowned in floodwaters and two were killed in a landslide.

More than 6,000 people have been forced into emergency shelters in schools and other public buildings.

The military ruler, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, declared an emergency in parts of Viti Levu, allowing authorities to impose night curfews to deter looting.

New Zealand announced $59,000 in funding to assist relief efforts by the Fiji Red Cross.

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