Cyclone Mick wreaks havoc on Fiji

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Satellite image of Cyclone Mick
Image: NASA.

Cyclone Mick, the first storm of the 2009–10 South Pacific cyclone season, has left at least four people dead after battering Fiji on Monday.

The storm inflicted widespread damage throughout the nation, although the island of Viti Levu bore the brunt of the impact. At the height of the storm, wind gusts of 110 km/h (70 mph) blew across the island.

Mick forced thousands into shelters and cut power to a large portion of the country. It triggered severe flooding and uprooted countless trees, and some residents are still without power.

"There's a lot of damage," said Tim Sutton, a spokesman for UNICEF. "Lots of trees down, power lines down everywhere, all the roads around Viti Levu are still closed with flooding and landslides." He described the cyclone as "very vicious".

Although the storm itself has been downgraded and has started to dissipate, officials say that the death toll could increase as contact is established with some of the smaller islands. However, advanced warnings likely reduced the number of fatalities.

On a lighter note, an emergency group of surgeons delivered seven babies during the cyclone's onslaught.