'Flood cost rises in Fiji's worst natural disaster' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Flood cost rises in Fiji's worst natural disaster'

The cost of damage from flooding in Fiji's "worst ever natural disaster" is rocketing, its military regime said on Monday, with the latest figure estimated at just over $30 million.

world Updated: Jan 19, 2009 13:26 IST

The cost of damage from flooding in Fiji's "worst ever natural disaster" is rocketing, its military regime said on Monday, with the latest figure estimated at just over $30 million.

Interim provincial development minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau told a press conference on Monday the flooding, which left at least 11 people dead, was the worst ever, eclipsing floods in 1956, 1972 and 1999.

The latest damage bill for the flood, which hit the western area of the main island of Viti Levu especially hard, had reached nearly 55 million Fiji dollars (30.5 million US).

Agriculture accounted for almost half of the estimated damage, particularly in the key sugar industry. Damage to roads, water and sewerage accounted for most the rest.

The figure did not include the losses to private houses and shops in areas such as the tourist hub Nadi, where the business centre was inundated by flood waters up to three metres (10 feet) high.

"Every attempt to return life to normalcy given our limited resources and capabilities are well underway," Nailatikau said.

People have started returning home, with the number of people in evacuation shelters falling from a peak of nearly 12,000 to around 7,500 by early on Monday, officials said.

But many have been unable to return home because their houses are full of mud and debris. In some areas, the lack of running water has made the clean-up more difficult.

The flooding was particularly destructive in the weekend of January 3 to 4 and heavy rain continued until late last week.

Most of those who were killed were swept away in raging rivers and some were caught in landslides.

Australia, New Zealand and other neighbouring Pacific Island countries have pledged aid to help Fiji get back to normal.