The islands of Fiji, in particular the largest island Viti Levu, have been badly affected by flooding and landslides following days of intense rain. The government has declared a state of disaster.
The rain started at the weekend and has flooded roads, cut off water and electricity supplies to some areas, according to a report by the BBC on Jan. 26. Thousands of people have fled their homes and are in temporary shelters and evacuation centres from where reports of typhoid victims are coming in.
The New Zealand Herald reports that among the dead are a family of four who were buried alive under a landslide on Viti Levu island. Rescuers were unable to reach the family due to the dangerous conditions. Two more people are known to have died and the death toll is expected to rise. A New Zealand weather forecaster said the rain will continue for at least another ten days with a risk of flash flooding and more landslides. New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has announced that an initial contribution of $350,000 has been made towards helping the Fijian government with its relief efforts.
Radio Fiji's website says that the bodies of the family were discovered in recent hours:
"Nalotawa Village headman Moape Drikalu has confirmed to FBC NEWS in the presence of Police, no one survived the disaster. Drikalu says the mother and the youngest daughter, aged one, was first to be found, followed by the elder daughter, 3, before pulling out the body of the father. Nalotawa also confirms due to the state of the bodies, the burial will be conducted this afternoon."Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is to visit the affected area and said the emergency services continue to be on full alert. Latest news is that the flood waters are starting to recede but the Prime Minister urged people to take all necessary precautions.
Relief efforts for the affected areas will continue until all missing people are accounted for and flood preparations are put in place in view of the weather forecast predicting further heavy rain.