News World Fiji ‘Cyclone Winston’ damage bill hits $650m

Fiji ‘Cyclone Winston’ damage bill hits $650m

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The damage bill from Cyclone Winston in Fiji has already reached $650 million, the government says, with thousands of people still living in evacuation centres.

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said the impact on the local economy was expected to rise as further damage estimates flowed in.

“It is of course very difficult at this stage to give an exact figure in terms of damages… but if you take into account the number of homes all over Fiji that have been damaged or completely demolished,” he said.

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“If you look at the impact on agriculture in terms of crops that are in the ground that have been damaged, or under the ground, the ability to plant, the ability of people to earn an income you can easily say it’s $FJ1 billion so far.”

The total number of evacuees stands at more than 45,000 who are living in 275 centres, disaster management officials said.

While essential services were back on in many places, the government said it may take up to six weeks to restore electricity in some regions.

The death toll from the category five cyclone which struck Fiji over the weekend remains at 44.

Further assistance was heading to Fiji, with the Australian Navy’s HMAS Canberra departing Brisbane bound for the cyclone-ravaged country, expected to arrive on next Tuesday.

Commanding officer Chris Smith said the ship was carrying the equivalent of a small regional hospital.

“We’ve embarked some medical personnel, we have a handful of people onboard ourselves, doctors, nurses,” he said.

“In the actual ship itself we have two surgeries, radiography capability there, a pharmacy, all the basic things you’d expect in a normal hospital.”

Captain Smith said the ship also had seven containers of supplies.

“We’ll have enough supplies to feed about 1,000 people for about 42 days,” he said.

Churches groups were also among those helping deliver relief.

“There is a dire need for clothing, we know that the only clothes that they have is what they are wearing at the moment, there’s a need for cooking utensils, pots and pans and the basic necessities,” reverend James Bhagwan from Fiji’s Methodist Church said.

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