Fiji PM tells cyclone victims help is on its way

Fiji PM tells cyclone victims help is on its way

Fiji PM tells cyclone victims help is on its way

Updated 20 December 2012, 11:31 AEST

Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama has assured victims of Cyclone Evan that help is on its way.

Fiji's interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama has assured victims of Cyclone Evan that help is on its way.

Commodore Bainimarama made the pledge to assist victims after returning last night from another tour of the cyclone affected areas in the Western Division.

He travelled through the Kings Highway to see the extent of damage caused by flood waters.

The interim prime minister urged all those engaged in clean up efforts to speed up their work.

He says this will ensure the major centres will be up and running again as quickly as possible.

"We will try and build all your homes," he said.

"It will not be this week or next week but it will be soon, very soon."

The government says food rations have been given to those affected by the cyclone, including residents who sought shelter in evacuation centres.

The local Red Cross says it's focused on getting fresh water and tarps to the worst affected areas.

AusAID has sent 36 tonnes of emergency supplies to the country.

The last official count had 14,000 people being cared for in emergency shelters.

The UN's Regional Disaster Response Adviser for the Pacific, Peter Muller, says power has been restored to 90 per cent of the Central and Western Divisions, and some of those who evacuated are now starting to head home.

"Some of those people are in evacuation centres because of flooding - particularly in the Central Division - and as waters are receding from those areas, people will be going home," he said.

Initial assessments by Fiji's Red Cross Society indicate that as many as 600 houses have been severely damaged in Lautoka alone.

Buildings in the area have also been destroyed.

Cyclone clean-up begins in FijiVideo: Cyclone clean-up begins in Fiji (7pm TV News VIC)

The Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development, an NGO with 60 staff, is also counting the cost of Cyclone Evan.

Its founder Sashi Kiran has told Pacific Beat its a double blow for many who work there.

"We've lost two buildings completely and the main building has lost a roof and since the roof was lost, basically all the equipment and stocks and everything is quite heavily damaged," she said.

"So we are trying to relocate to the town area now. Out of the 60 staff, at least eight have lost their homes."

Around 300 uniformed personnel are involved in the cleanup, and the Fiji Military Forces normal Christmas stand down period has been postponed until the job is done.

Draft delay

Cyclone Evan has delayed the official handover of Fiji's draft constitution until Friday.

The Constitution Commission's final recommendations were due to be handed over to President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau on Thursday.

The Commission chairman, Professor Yash Ghai, has told FijiLive power outages caused by Cyclone Evan have delayed the process.

The Constitution is being redrafted in Fiji ahead of scheduled elections.

In its submission to the Constitution Commission, the miltary says its forces will continue to play a custodian role even beyond the 2014 elections.

Since July, the commission has received more than seven thousand submissions from Fijians.

Samoa recovery

Cleanup and recovery efforts and also underway in Samoa, where Cyclone Evan killed five people and displaced more than 4,000 thousand before hitting Fiji.

At least 12 people are still missing in Samoa in the wake of the devastating cyclone.

Officials in New Zealand say the storm may now be headed their way.

They says it has been weakened but could still cause heavy rain and flooding in parts of New Zealand this weekend.