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Saturday 21 April 2018

Fiji PM warns of ‘frightening new era’ of extreme weather after deadly cyclone

More than 1,000 people remained in evacuation centres this week as the storm moved away.

Voreqe Bainimarama said climate change was causing extreme weather events to become more severe and occur more often (Martin Meissner/AP)
Voreqe Bainimarama said climate change was causing extreme weather events to become more severe and occur more often (Martin Meissner/AP)

By Nick Perry, Associated Press

Fiji is entering a “frightening new era” of extreme weather, the leader of the Pacific island nation said after flooding from a cyclone killed at least four people.

The Pacific island nation of nearly one million people avoided a direct hit from the winds after Cyclone Josie struck on Sunday, but heavy rains and flooding caused damage to homes, businesses and vehicles on the western side of the main island Viti Levu.

More than 1,000 people remained in evacuation centres this week as the storm moved away.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, also known as Frank Bainimarama, said climate change was causing extreme weather events to become more severe and occur more often.

Last November, he chaired a climate summit in Bonn, Germany, and he spoke at the launch of a climate change film in the capital Suva on Tuesday.

He said he was trying to deliver the message to the world about confronting the global warming crisis.

It is a “fight for our very survival”, he said, and that “we are now at an almost constant level of threat”.

He said countries must limit the global temperature increase, as agreed under the Paris climate accord.

“It is the only way to prevent catastrophe for the whole world and especially for vulnerable nations such as our own,” he said.

A recent report completed by the World Bank and Fiji officials indicated annual losses from extreme weather events could total 6.5% of the economy by 2050, Mr Bainimarama said.

The Fiji Red Cross Society said it was distributing supplies to villagers in the hard-hit town of Ba.

Authorities were also trying to restore power to some areas which had suffered outages.

In 2016, Cyclone Winston ripped through Fiji, killing 44 people and destroying thousands of homes.

Press Association

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