One person has died, and five, including a three-year-old boy, are still missing after Cyclone Ana pummelled Fiji on Sunday, just over a month after category 5 Cyclone Yasa tore through the country’s northern islands.
Two more cyclones are already forming off Fiji’s coastline, and cyclone season still has three months left to run.
More than 10,000 people remain in emergency evacuation centres after torrential rain and strong winds caused severe flooding and widespread damage to buildings, crops and public infrastructure.
Most of the country has been without electricity since Sunday and there were also reports of widespread water disruptions.
Police were seen patrolling town centres on fibreglass boats as the heavy downpour, coupled with high tides, overwhelmed drainage systems. Officers rescued two babies after a tree fell on the house where they were sheltering.
“Tropical Cyclone Ana, the 2nd in a month exits Fiji – leaving behind a difficult recovery,” said Fiji’s ambassador to the United Nations, Satyendra Prasad.
“On a personal note, for the very first time in our family history, boats sailed into my mum’s home street for rescue. We have lived here since 1921. Fiji will rebuild.”
Prime minister Frank Bainimarama, fiercely outspoken on the impacts climate change is having on on Pacific islands, said “forecasts put one more potential cyclone on TC Ana’s heels … that would be three storms striking Fiji in just over a month”.
“Today, my priority is on Fijians’ safety — but the rest of the world needs to wake up and reckon with why this is happening.”
The Fiji government announced a 36-hour curfew on Saturday ahead of the cyclone, but reversed the decision after strong public criticism on social media. The country has had to abide by a daily curfew since 19 March, when it announced the first confirmed case of Covid-19.
A three-year-old boy went missing near Lautoka, on the island of Viti Levu, after he went with his grandfather to check on a boat stuck in mangroves.
The number of causalities is expected to increase as the authorities conduct damage assessments, and reach isolated areas cut-off by floodwaters, in the following days.
The National Disaster Management Office said 10,259 people were sheltering in 318 evacuation centres across the country, with 5,776 in Fiji’s northern division that was badly hit by TC Yasa.
Schools have remained closed since Friday, with many serving as evacuation centres, but businesses and public transport in Suva have been allowed to open from today.
By Sunday evening, as TC Ana slowly exited Fiji waters, two more cyclones had apparently formed, category 1 TC Bina approaching from the country’s northwest and TC Lucas in the western Coral Sea off Australia’s coast.
TC Bina has since been downgraded by the Fiji meteorological office to a tropical depression, while TC Lucas is not posing an immediate threat to the Fijian archipelago.
There are still three months remaining before the end of Fiji’s cyclone season, which lasts from November to April.