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Fiji Braces as Deadly Cyclone Evan Approaches Pacific Islands

Fiji, an island chain in the South Pacific, is bracing for the arrival of tropical cyclone Evan, which left two people dead and 3,000 others homeless in Samoa last week.

The category 4 cyclone was about 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of the northwestern island of Yasawa-I-Rara at 8:02 a.m. local time, moving at about 22 kilometers per hour, according to the Fiji Meteorological Service website. Winds at the storm’s center will average 185 kilometers per hour, with some gusts as strong as 270 kilometers per hour, the agency said.

“I cannot stress how serious this is -- every Fijian will be affected,” Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. yesterday. “If the weather forecasters are correct it will affect Fiji in a very damaging way, bringing about destructive winds and flooding.”

The Australian government said it is monitoring the cyclone and offered assistance to Fiji and Samoa. More than 300,000 Australian tourists visit Fiji every year and Australia is the nation’s largest aid donor, according to a statement from Foreign Minister Bob Carr’s office in Canberra.

Some areas of Fiji were already without power and experiencing flash flooding, New Zealand website reported. Air New Zealand canceled flights today to the nation, the website reported, citing a spokeswoman.

New Zealand will give NZ$50,000 ($42,335) in aid to Samoa, including search assistance for missing fishermen, Radio New Zealand reported on its website.

Fiji is a 332-island archipelago 3,240 kilometers northeast of Australia. The cyclone season in the South Pacific region runs from November to April and storms sometimes cause flooding and landslides.

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