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Monday, March 22, 2010 Short Briefs
The map shows, from north to south, Eastern Vanua Levu to Udu Point; the Tunuloa peninsula, Vanua Levu, with Kioa (home to Fiji's Tuvaluans) and Rabi islands; and the northern tip of Taveuni.
Rabi island, home of Fiji's Banaban population, was in the direct path of the hurricane but as far as I can tell there's been no official mention of Australian or NZ reconnaisance flights, deaths, damage or relief supplies, although government apparently tried to make contact with the island before the hurricane hit.
We do have a report from Michael Field in Stuff ("Devastated Pacific island facing starvation") that the island is "facing starvation and disease." The report cites Dr Bauro Vanualaila, Rabi Council chairman speaking from Suva, saying the island "is devastated". One person is dead, many houses are destroyed, "all the food crops and fruit trees have gone [and it] will take just another day or two [before] people will starve if no food arrives on the island."
We have not heard what government is doing but the Banaban community in Fiji and abroard seems likely to beat them to it. Thanks to them, food and medical supplies will have reached the island by now.See these Banaban web sites to see how quickly a community can be mobilised. Michael's article provides useful background information on how Banabans came to be in Fiji.
Bad as the situation must have seemed, I doubt there was any likelihood of imminent starvation. The roots of ruined crops like tavioka and dalo are edible long after their tops are destroyed, there are fish in the sea, and the villagers must have had some food stored.