Fiji under curfew, state of disaster as Cyclone Yasa approaches

Top category five storm, is expected to bring winds of up to 250 kmh and torrential rains

Reuters December 17, 2020
Vessels are seen onshore ahead of Cyclone Yasa at Royal Suva Yacht Club in Suva, Fiji December 16, 2020, in this image obtained from social media. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Fiji government ordered a nationwide curfew on Thursday, including a ban on public transportation, with a potentially devastating cyclone expected to unleash powerful winds and flooding on the island nation within a day.

Cyclone Yasa, a top category five storm, is expected to bring winds of up to 250 kmh (155 mph) and torrential rain across the South Pacific archipelago nation when it makes landfall by early Friday.

The country ordered a 14-hour nationwide curfew from 4 pm (0400 GMT) with people living in low-lying areas urged to move to higher ground before nightfall, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a video posted to Facebook.

“The impact for this superstorm is more or less the entire country,” Bainimarama said in the video.

Yasa would “easily surpass” the strength of 2016’s Cyclone Winston, he added, referring to the southern hemisphere’s most intense tropical storm on record, which killed more than 40 Fijians and left tens of thousands of people homeless.

Over 850,000 Fijians, or 95 per cent of the population, live in the direct path of Yasa, said Bainimarama, adding that weather forecasts anticipated flash flooding and “severe coastal inundation” that included waves up to 10 metres (33 ft) high.

Police would enforce a ban on public transport, said the country’s National Disaster Management Office, which added that the country had declared a “state of natural disaster” which gives law enforcement authorities increased powers.

By 8 p.m. on Thursday, the centre of Yasa was forecast to be 100 km (62 miles) east of the village of Yasawa-i-Rara and potentially over Fiji’s fifth-most populous province of Bua, home to 15,000 people, the office said.


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