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Cyclone Harold flattens homes, brings injuries in Fiji

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SUVA (Reuters/Fiji Met/Pacnews) — A powerful tropical cyclone battered the South Pacific island nation of Fiji on Wednesday, witnesses said, destroying buildings and causing injuries in Suva, the capital, pressuring a population already bracing for the coronavirus outbreak.


Tropical Cyclone Harold, its strength ranked in the highest category of five, passed over Fiji’s south at about midday, levelling homes and snapping communications links in the archipelago, which has adopted curbs on movement to rein in the virus.
“We’ve seen reports of injuries,” Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, said by telephone.
“As to the number, as well as the intensity, of the injuries, that’s yet to be ascertained.”
There were no immediate reports of deaths, but about 10 houses in Suva were reported destroyed, Soko added.
Flooded streets, wild winds and ruined buildings on the country’s main island home to Suva featured in unverified video images and photographs circulated on social media.
Emergency officials were scrambling to establish contact with the southern island of Kadavu, after the storm severed communications with it, Soko added.
The ferocious storm has cut a path through the Pacific, which is already on high alert for an outbreak of the flu-like virus that has infected 1.4 million people globally and killed 82,000.
Although Fiji has just 15 infections and no deaths, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has banned unnecessary gatherings of more than 20 people, among other curbs.
The cyclone, which has killed dozens in the Solomon Islands before destroying buildings in Vanuatu, was expected to make its way to Tonga, weather forecasters said.
At around 3 a.m. Thursday morning, TC Harold exited Fiji waters.
It continues to move southeastwards and it is lying just south of Tongatapu.
Ono-I-Lau is still feeling some gusty winds with light rain but it will ease soon.
As for the rest of Fiji, moderate southerly winds along Suva-Nausori corridor and along the maritime islands, some showers (it can even be heavy at times). Seas will still be rough, especially along the Maritime islands. All in all, the weather should be normalizing.
The only concern now is the flooding due to the rain being experienced along the different catchment areas over the last few days. Flood waters are still making its way towards the major rivers especially the Rewa river.

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