Suva, Jan 31: Tropical cyclone Ana, the first one to hit Fiji this year, has caused extensive damages to the South Pacific island nation.
According to a statement by Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) on Sunday, at around 10 pm on Saturday night, the centre of the tropical cyclone moved past the northern part of the Yasawa islands and headed towards Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu before strengthening into a category 2 system, reports Xinhua news agency.
At 6 on Sunday morning, the cyclone made landfall near Rakiraki in the northern part of Viti Levu and continued to track south-southeast over the central part of Fiji towards the capital area of Suva.
By midday on Sunday, the centre of Ana was located over the coast of Viti Levu between Suva and Navua, a town about 38 km west of Suva heading towards Kadavu in the southern part of Fiji.
The FMS said very strong winds have been reported over Kadavu and Ana is expected to pass Kadavu on Sunday night.
Close to the centre of the cyclone, destructive storm force winds with average speeds of 100 km per hour and momentary gusts of up to 140 km per hour will continue to be felt over most parts of Fiji, including Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the second-largest island.
The FMS warned that winds of this strength and speed can cause significant damage to trees, weak structures and houses, heavy damage to crops and power failures.
According to local media reports, the tropical cyclone, which has brought heavy rain and strong winds, has caused extensive damages to the island nation while five people, including a three-year-old boy, went missing.
The main rivers in the nation have surged, some villages in the low-lying areas have been flooded and some highways across the nation have been closed. Fallen trees, broken power lines and landslides were also reported in the nation.
Currently, a total of 7,612 people are taking shelter in 204 evacuation centres across the nation.
The Education Ministry has confirmed that all schools in Fiji will remain closed on Monday until further notice.
The FMS warned of more heavy rains and strong winds on Sunday and Monday. The Fijian authorities have urged people to continue to stay safe at home.
Last month, tropical cyclone Yasa hit Fiji, killing four people and causing extensive damage to houses and schools, especially in the northern part of the island nation.
The tropical cyclone season in the South Pacific region runs between November and April every year and Fiji was predicted to experience up to three tropical cyclones during the current season. – IANS