Banaban Voice

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Monday, March 15, 2010
The scale of the damage caused by Hurricane Tomas in the Northern division continues to remain sketchy as much of the communication links to Vanua Levu and nearby islands have been broken. However reports from a number of individuals in the region indicate that the Northern division is being pummeled by very strong winds and heavy rain, and huge waves have swept through a number of villages. The latest report from the weather office say Tomas was located about 160km north-north east of Taveuni or 375km northeast of Suva at 1pm today.

Close to its center hurricane winds are estimated to average 175km/hr, increasing to 200km/hr within the next 18 hours with momentary gusts up to 270km/hr. The hurricane is intensifying and moving south at 9km/hr. On this track the hurricane center is expected to be located about 65km east-northeast of Taveuni or 285km northeast of Suva at 1am tomorrow morning and about 135km south southeast of Taveuni or 215km east of Suva at 1pm tomorrow.

A hurricane warning is in force for eastern half of Vanua Levu, Cikobia, Taveuni, Rabi, Kioa, Yacata, Koro, Vanuabalavu, Gau, Cicia, Batiki, Nairai, Wakaya, Lakeba, Kabara, Moala, Makogai, Matuku, Totoya, and nearby smaller islands.

Expect winds to increase to very destructive hurricane force with average speeds of 175km/hr with momentary gusts to 230km/hr.

Nadi weather office Director Rajendra Prasad told FBC News in the last hour that the centre of the Hurricane is now passing over Cikobia island.

Comparing Tomas to Cyclone Daman that devastated Cikobia in 2007, Prasad says Tomas will be more destructive as it is moving slower through the group.

However DISMAC officials told FBC News this afternoon they believe that Hurricane TOMAS is slowly moving away from the Fiji Group.

DISMAC acting director Pajiliai Dobui says they have revised their damage estimates for the Eastern and Central Divisions because of the projected new path the hurricane is likely to take.

Tomas after moving closer to Udu Point is now north-northeast off Taveuni and Northeast of Suva.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

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Comment by Stacey King on March 16, 2010 at 8:00am
Hi Phil this Fairfax Press in NZ and obviously Sydney have been following us on Twitter yesterday with our updates with Ken's brother at home. You can follow us on Nature_Pacific via TWITTER... Ken is in the middle of getting his Aust citizenship and his Fiji passport has run out. We are trying to get an emergency passport for him so he can get home to help them.
Comment by Phil B on March 16, 2010 at 7:48am
Thanks for the update Stacey. It sounds like the poor islands are copping a real beating.

I've also just read this on SMH this morning. You hope it's not true..

Regards Phil

"The Red Cross had lost contact after midday yesterday with its branch on the island of Taveuni, which was hit by gale force winds. In Tabiang village on the nearby island of Rabi, houses and trees were being knocked flat, forcing families to shelter together in one home under the care of a retired UN Fiji peacekeeper.

''He has them all gathered, now about 30 of them in his house and the last he told us they were building barriers with overturned beds and turned over a chest freezer to put the children into,'' a local man said. ''The trees had already gone a few hours back so if the house holds up it will be a miracle. It's all about survival now.''

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