Floods In Fiji kill 6, Thousands Seek Shelter

SUVA, Fiji (AP) - Flooding has left six people dead and sent thousands seeking emergency shelter in Fiji, where more severe rain storms are expected in coming days, officials said Monday.

Six people were killed in the western district of the Pacific nation's main island of Veti Levu, four of them drowned in floodwaters and two caught in a landslide, said the acting chief of disaster management, Aisea Qumihajelo.

"There's another depression heading toward Fiji within the next two days and that will bring an additional threat," Qumihajelo told The Associated Press on Monday.

Four days of torrential rains have flooded the towns of Nadi, Ba, Sigatoka and Labasa and many rural villages - forcing more than 6,000 people into emergency shelters, he said.

The military ruler, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, declared an emergency in parts of Veti Levu, allowing authorities to impose night curfews to deter looting.

"We want to prevent criminal elements from taking advantage of the flood-hit areas," National Security Minister Ratu Epli Ganilau said.

There have been no reports of tourists in trouble at the country's resorts.

Sugar cane crops have been flooded, roads severed and bridges submerged by surging floodwaters.

Qumihajelo said no decision had been made on whether to seek disaster assistance from regional powers Australia and New Zealand.
The two countries, longtime providers of aid, have been harshly critical of Fiji's military ruler and his refusal to hold democratic elections by April this year.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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