Fiji braces for Cyclone Yasa as Tonga, Niue batten down for Zazu

Sydney, Australia, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- The South Pacific island nation of Fiji on Wednesday was bracing for the onslaught of category 5 Cyclone Yasa, as Tonga and Niue prepared for the category 2 Cylone Zazu.

At midday, Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said severe cyclone Yasa was about 500 kilometers northwest of Nadi, on the main island of Viti Levu. It is forecast to hit Fiji late Thursday.

Sustained winds of about 200 kilometers per hour with gusts of up to 280 kilometers per hour were expected.

Residents were warned Wednesday to move to evacuation centers, prepare emergency kits, and store food and water, as authorities ordered the closure of schools and an 11 pm curfew.

“Fijians are urged to secure your homes, stowing objects that can be blown away by strong winds or washed away by floods or storm surges. Coastal dwellers are advised to secure boats and items that may float and damage property,” the NDMO said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama asked in a speech Tuesday night that the population prepare for “heavy rain, damaging winds, coastal inundation, and flooding across the country.”

“Let’s remember Cyclone Harold. At the last minute, it ramped up in strength and ended up being worse than predicted,” said the leader, referring to the deadly April storm that affected the South Pacific.

He also warned the almost 883,400 residents of his country not to be “caught off guard.”

The Ministry of Rural and Martime Development told citizens that “We cannot stress this enough – the time to prepare is now!!”

Meanwhile, Cyclone Zazu was moving in the opposite direction out to sea between Tonga and Niue, but does not represent a direct threat to Fiji, according to the Fiji metservice at 3 pm.

This cyclone, which poses threats of strong winds and dangerous seas in Tonga, and gales, rain, thunderstorms and rough seas in Niue, is expected to downgrade to category 1 by Thursday, according to the New Zealand meteorological service WeatherWatch.

The usual cyclone season in that part of the South Pacific runs between November and April. EFE-EPA


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