Residents of Fiji forged through the most powerful storm ever recorded on the the island-nation with gale-force winds this weekend reaching at least as high as 184 mph. At least one man has died.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama declared a state of emergency on Saturday and also installed a nationwide curfew and suspended flights, as Tropical Cyclone Winston broached the shores of Fiji’s archipelago, the Fiji Broadcast Corporation reported.
“We cannot afford to be complacent,” Bainimarama said. “I am especially concerned that some people in urban areas do not appear to have heeded the warnings about the seriousness of the threat.”
By early Sunday morning local time, the center said the cyclone had avoided Suva, instead tearing a path of destruction about 100 miles to the northwest on the island of Viti Levu.
The cyclone marks the first time a Category 5 struck Fiji, while the high winds were the strongest ever recoded in the Southern Hemisphere, according to multiple reports.
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The Fiji Red Cross said in a statement released Saturday that emergency workers were prepared for the worst, including damaged homes and disrupted water supplies.
“We have prepositioned relief items sufficient for 12,000 people in our headquarters in Suva and have mobilized over 300 staff and volunteers across our 14 branches nationwide,” said Eseroma Ledua, Operations Manager at the Fiji Red Cross.
Fiji has a population of more than 900,000 across many of its 110 islands. About 176,000 people live in Fiji’s capital city of Suva.