A Category storm battered the island-nation Fiji, destroying houses and flooding the country. It is the most powerful tropical cyclone on record to hit the Southern Hemisphere.
Tropical Cyclone Winston made a landfall on Saturday at 7 pm with winds of up to 184 miles an hour, according to estimates of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. It battered Viti Levu Island, where majority of 900,000 Fjiians live. Although the storm’s eye has passed over the island, the storm warning remains in effect, reports Gizmodo.
The cyclone is as strong as Super Storm Haiyan (Yolanda), which devastated the Philippines in November 2013 and killed more than 6,000 people. So far, there has been only one confirmed dead, an elderly man who was hit by a roof than fell on him, reports CNN.
The tropical paradise, where the 1980s Brooke Shields-starrer “Blue Lagoon” was shot, is now an awful sight, says Alice Clements of Suva, a communications specialist for UNICEF in the Pacific. Clements shares that a lot of trees were uprooted and felled by the cyclone. Images of the damage were shared on social media using the hashtag #PrayForFiji.
A lot of homes, made of light materials, were destroyed. Clements says nothing is standing since the storm had flattened houses. Video footage posted on YouTube shows poor visibility and flooding.
Since Winston started to form in early February, first designated as Tropical Disturbance 09F, and was designated a tropical cyclone on Feb 10, relief organisations had adequate time to prepare. Fiji Red Cross had prepositioned relief items for 12,000 in its Suva headquarters and mobilised 300 workers and volunteers across its 14 branches in Fiji.
Ahead of the cyclone, the government activated more than 750 evacuation centres. The government had declared a state of emergency and imposed a nationwide curfew. All flights were also cancelled.