Cyclone batters Fiji island | world | Hindustan Times
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Cyclone batters Fiji island

A devastating cyclone flattened much of the tiny Fiji island of Cikobia with most houses and vegetation destroyed.

world Updated: Dec 09, 2007 04:52 IST

A devastating cyclone flattened much of the tiny Fiji island of Cikobia on Saturday with most houses and vegetation destroyed, but its 69 villagers survived by hiding in caves, officials said.

Communications to the remote island on Fiji's northeastern border were knocked out in the storm but a brief radio telephone message confirmed all the villagers had been accounted for.

They were able to flee their homes before Cyclone Daman made a direct hit about 3:00 am (2100IST Friday) and took shelter in caves on the island.

The full extent of the damage to Cikobia is unlikely to be known until tomorrow after initial attempts to conduct an aerial survey were aborted because of continuing poor weather.

Relief officials said a boat carrying supplies of medicine, food and tarpaulins would leave for the island late today and another attempt to send in a helicopter would be made at first light tomorrow.

Initial reports indicated there had been casualties.

But a nurse on Cikobia was able to get a message to Labasa Hospital on Vanua Levu island to confirm there were no serious injuries, although houses and vegetation had been destroyed, said the hospital superintendent, Ami Chand.

As Daman, packing hurricane-force winds of up to 260 kilometres an hour, bore down on Fiji yesterday, residents were forced to take shelter and tourists were evacuated from expensive resorts on outlying islands.

The storm, a category four on a five-point scale, was initially heading for Vanua Levu, Fiji's second largest island, before veering away and making a direct hit on Cikobia.