By Samisoni Pareti
Islands Business Magazine
First pictures out of a remote island in north-eastern Fiji show utter destruction caused by super-cyclone Winston over the weekend.
Unconfirmed reports speak of at least four fatalities on Vanuabalavu, home to 17 villages of more than 2000 people. It is also the home of former Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase.
Despite a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion recon flight to the region last Sunday, no images -- for some unexplained reasons -- were released on Vanuabalavu. When asked, RNZAF referred all queries to its Foreign Affairs Ministry in Wellington which in turn said the identification of islands in the images was left with Fijian authorities.
These images were only released a short time ago through a pilot of a private plane that flew to the island today.
Images speak of utter destruction, of homes totally destroyed, and huge structures like churches reduced to rubbles. There is also no trace of the government built jetty, with a makeshift lake in the centre of the village of Lomaloma. It appeared from the photos that the island's east-line coast bore the brunt of the damage.
FLP stalwart Gaffar Ahmed in Ba: “I have seen no government officials or vehicles around. No attempt has been made by the PWD, the Roads Authority or the Fiji Electricity Authority to clear up the roads, remove fallen trees and debris or clear out fallen lines"
Fijileaks: We suggest get up, mobilize your 'legion' of FLP supporters to clear the debris, and ask your leader Mahendra Chaudhry to foot the bill from the $2million plus interests in Aussie and Kiwi bank accounts
Damage to infrastructure is substantial. Power poles and lines are down everywhere, cutting off communication with the town. The roads are still cluttered with fallen trees, blocking access to most areas.
“I have seen no government officials or vehicles around. No attempt has been made by the PWD, the Roads Authority or the Fiji Electricity Authority to clear up the roads, remove fallen trees and debris or clear out fallen lines.
“The way I see it, damage to infrastructure is so massive, it will take 2-3 months to fully restore power and water,” said Gaffar.
What about the human suffering? No relief of any form has gone out to the victims of the cyclone in the area, three days after Winston.