Australia has committed an initial $1 million each to Fiji and Samoa in emergency assistance and relief supplies for communities devastated by Cyclone Evan, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.
Senator Carr said the cyclone which hit Fiji overnight brought heavy rain and winds of up to 270 kilometres per hour, causing storm surges of up to four metres.
"More than 8,000 people are sheltering in evacuation centres across the country," Senator Carr said.
"We are concerned about the communities caught in the wake of this devastating cyclone.
"Thankfully at this stage there is no reported loss of life.
"This reflects the good planning implemented by the Fiji Government and demonstrates the importance of heeding the advice of local authorities in such circumstances.
"Houses and food crops have been destroyed across Fiji and there has been major flooding with roads, bridges and tourist areas suffering significant damage.
"Some of the worst hit areas are isolated islands.
"Fiji is still recovering from flooding in April this year which will make recovery even harder.
"Two disaster relief experts from AusAID's Rapid Response Team are travelling today to Suva to support damage assessment and respond to urgent relief needs.
"The Australian Civilian Corps is also on standby for early deployment.
"To help our Pacific neighbours, Australia is supporting damage assessments and we will provide logistics support to deliver relief items such as tarpaulins, water purification tablets and shelter.
"This support includes 1,500 family kits for the people of Fiji and will assist 4,000 family households in Samoa.
"We are also sending an additional DFAT officer to Suva to provide consular assistance to Australians," Senator Carr said.
A number of flights have been disrupted as a consequence of the cyclone. Travellers are encouraged to first check with airlines for advice on scheduling.
In Samoa, the Government has confirmed the scale and cost of Cyclone Evan now exceeds that of the 2009 tsunami.
Senator Carr said further assistance in both Samoa and Fiji would be considered following talks with relevant authorities and when more was known about the extent of the damage.
"We will work closely with our partners to ensure Australia's response is coordinated and effective," Senator Carr said.
- Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7500
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
- AusAID Media: 0417 680 590