Fiji battened down on Monday as a cyclone bore down on the main island of Viti Levu, packing winds of up to 150 kilometres an hour, meteorologists said.
The category two Cyclone Mick was about 110 kilometres northwest of the tourist centre of Nadi at 11 am (2200 GMT Sunday), the Fiji Meteorological Service said.
Close to its centre the cyclone was estimated to have average winds of 90 to 110 kilometres an hour with gusts of up to 150 kilometres an hour, the service said.
The cyclone was moving southeast at 15 kilometres an hour and has been upgraded from category one, the least destructive on a five point scale.
Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad issued a warning of gale force winds for the Fiji islands, including rain and flooding. "The core of the system will hit Viti Levu causing heavy rain fall and flooding," Prasad told the Fijilive online news service, adding tourist areas in the west of the country would feel the brunt of the storm.
Authorities urged people in low-lying areas to move to higher ground and the government told all non-essential public servants to stay home on Monday as people began securing their homes against the severe winds and rain.