Toll in Fiji’s tropical cyclone Winston rises to 28

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Suva, Feb 23 (IANS) The toll in severe tropical cyclone Winston has risen to 28 in Fiji, the media reported on Tuesday.

Besides, at least 21 people were suffering serious injuries, Xinhua quoted Akapusi Tuifagalele, director of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office, as saying.

The toll may rise further as police were trying to get confirmation on some reports of missing persons.

Over 8,400 people were housed in evacuation centres around the country, Tuifagalele said.

Many people have been stranded and urgently need food and shelter following Winston, a category 5 cyclone, which swept through Fiji last Saturday and left a path of destruction.

The government has been working to coordinate rescue and relief efforts, and has established bank accounts to receive financial donations to help those affected by Winston, considered the strongest tropical cyclone Fiji has so far experienced.

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The United Nations has begun its assessment of the needs for international assistance to Fiji, and the UN’s Pacific Humanitarian Team was reaching out to the authorities in a bid to determine what expertise and support were needed.

Meanwhile, several countries have extended a helping hand to the Pacific island country.

The Red Cross Society of China extended an emergency humanitarian aid of $100,000 to the Fiji Red Cross Society on Monday.

Expressing heartfelt gratitude for the “timely donation”, Cathy Wong, president of the Fiji Red Cross Society said China was the first country to donate to Fiji.

A New Zealand plane landed in Fiji late Monday, carrying relief supplies and a joint team comprising military, fire service and health staff.

China’s Ministry of Commerce has declared that it was working on a plan to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Fiji.

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Both Australia and New Zealand have pledged to provide disaster relief fund to Fiji.

The US Agency for International Development is providing an initial $100,000 in humanitarian aid to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for critical relief supplies and basic water, sanitation and hygiene assistance to Fiji.

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