India extends $1 million assistance to Fiji
India extended $1 million as immediate assistance to Fiji, which was hit by a severe cyclone that killed over 20 people. "Reaching out to a friend in need. India extends USD 1 million in immediate assistance to Fiji after devastating Cyclone Winston hits," Vikas Swaroop of the External Affairs Ministry tweeted. India's assistance comes as Fiji began a massive cleanup effort after cyclone Winston.
According to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, Cyclone Winston was packing winds of 180 mph with wind gusts of over 224 mph, making it a massive Category 5 storm. Cyclone Winston is expected to strengthen further before the eye of the storm hits. "As a nation, we are facing an ordeal of the most grievous kind," said Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
It's rather uncommon for a tropical storm to make a U-turn and hit an area twice, but Cyclone Winston did exactly that. Winston first hit the small island country-Tonga as a Category 2 storm, before restrengthening and hitting Tonga again as a Category 4 storm. According to officials, powerlines and homes were destroyed in Tonga's Vava'u district, but no casualties or injuries were reported.
Cyclone Winston, since its encounter with Tonga, has been tracked. It is expected to pass through the narrow waterway between the Fijian main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. If Cyclone Winston stays on its forecasted path as many are hoping, the Fijian capital city of Sevu, located in the southern island of Viti Levu would be spared from a direct hit.
Fiji declared a state of national disaster and imposed a curfew from 6 pm local time. Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama assured that the nation's hurricane centres were all operational and that the government was ready to deal with a potential crisis. All domestic and international flights have been grounded for the weekend. People have been urged to secure their homes and not venture outside.
Cyclone Winston made landfall in the north-eastern coast of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. Viti Levu is expected to bear the brunt of the cyclone for the next 6 to 12 hours. There has been one casualty so far - an old man who was killed by a collapsed house. Several areas, including the Fijian capital Sevu, are reportedly without power.
Cyclone Winston is the most massive storm to hit Fiji in history. Fiji has had fewer than 10 direct hits from storms at or above hurricane intensity (with sustained speeds above 75 mph), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Residents of Fiji began to clean up and assess the damage after the ferocious cyclone Winston tore through the Pacific island chain. Officials said they were trying to establish communications to the hardest-hit areas, to understand the full extent of the damage and injuries. Fiji's National Disaster Management Office said two people on Ovalau Island died while another was killed on Koro island.