Hundreds of evacuation centres activated as severe Tropical Cyclone Winston lashes Fiji


7186084-3x2-340x227Hundreds of evacuation centres have been activated as a powerful category five cyclone lashes Fiji’s outer islands, with hurricane-force winds of up to 220 kilometres per hour. Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is heading westward and has already hit areas in the Lau group of islands as it tracks towards more populated areas. The cyclone was about 320 kilometres east-north-east of Suva, the capital, at 5:00am (local time), travelling at 25 kilometres per hour. The storm was carrying average winds of 220 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 315 kilometres per hour, Fiji’s Meteorological Service said. Forecasters say there is a chance the cyclone will whip up very strong wind gusts around the capital. “That is a possibility that we cannot eliminate right now, that is the reason for us issuing a hurricane warning in terms of swells and heavy rain,” Fiji meteorologist Misaeli Funaki told the ABC. National Disaster Management Director Akapusi Tuifagalele told the Fijilive news website 758 evacuation centres had been prepared. Read more.