Fiji scrambles to restore power as Cyclone Winston kills 6
Fijians were finally able to venture outside Monday when authorities lifted a curfew, but much of the country remained without electricity in the wake of a ferocious cyclone that left at least six people dead and destroyed hundreds of homes.
Officials were scrambling to restore services and assess damage in remote parts of the Pacific Island chain.
Winds from Cyclone Winston, which tore through Fiji over the weekend, reached 177 mph, making it the strongest storm in the Southern Hemisphere since record-keeping began, according to the Weather Underground website.
The government imposed the curfew Saturday night and lifted it at 5:30 a.m. Monday. A 30-day declaration of a state of natural disaster remains in effect and empowers police to make arrests without warrants.
In a televised address to the nation Sunday, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said many people have been left without power, fresh water or communications.
He said the police and military had been brought in to help with rescue operations and the general cleanup, and that government agencies were working overtime to clear roads and restore power.
“This is a time of sorrow, but it will also be a time of action,” Bainimarama said. “We will stand united in the face of this disaster.”
Tourism Minister Faiyaz Siddiq Koya said all tourists in Fiji are safe and that there was no significant damage to the majority of hotels on the main island. Fiji is a popular tourist destination, known for its beach resorts and scuba diving.
“Truth be told, we've gotten off pretty lightly here in the capital,” said Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF.
The airport reopened Sunday to allow emergency flights. Many flights had been canceled the day before.