Fiji hit by ‘strongest ever’ cyclone, braced for evacuations


SUVA, Fiji: Fiji was on Saturday struck by its most powerful ever cyclone, according to reports, as the island nation battened down the hatches with a blanket curfew and mass evacuations.

The category five super-storm hit the main island of Viti Levu overnight, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, with flights cancelled and evacuation centres activated earlier in the day.

“As a nation, we are facing an ordeal of the most grievous kind,” Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said in a national address.

“We must stick together as a people and look after each other. Be alert and be prepared.” Severe tropical cyclone Winston, with average winds of 220 kilometres (136 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 315 kilometres per hour, was the first ever category five storm to hit the nation, the Fiji Times reported.

“This mega storm has the potential to cause catastrophic damage across Fiji, an island nation frequented by hundreds of thousands of holiday-goers every year,” said Iris Low-McKenzie, CEO of Save the Children Fiji.