A FIJIAN woman who survived the tsunami at Lata in the Solomon Islands has warned those in Fiji not to be complacent after witnessing first-hand the destructive force of the natural phenomenon.
Speaking from her home in Nadera yesterday, Dr Ledua Waqaliti said if locals witnessed what she had, they would not be complacent when issued with tsunami warnings.
"It was a very traumatic experience and I really hope it doesn't happen here," the University of the South Pacific lecturer said.
"Sometimes people here can be a bit complacent with the tsunami warnings and be a little casual when we have to move to higher ground during tsunami warnings."
"But after seeing what has happened in the Solomons I would really advise all people to take tsunami warnings very seriously," she said.
Dr Waqaliti arrived back in the country on Saturday after leaving the disaster zone of Lata on Friday — hours before a 6.8 magnitude aftershock rocked the island.
"I left the island to travel to Honiara on Friday and the Fijian community organised a seat for me on a flight to Nadi," she said.
Though she was back in the safety of her home, Dr Waqaliti said she continued to pray for those on Lata.
"It was truly an experience that I will never forget and I still continue to pray for those on the island," she said.
Dr Waqaliti said food and water were scarce on the island with many of those taking shelter up in the hills of Lata eating crackers because of the lack of food.
Aftershocks have continued to hit just off Lata Island with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake jolting the region early yesterday — centred 51 km southwest of Lata at a depth of 35km.
It followed a 6.5-magnitude quake early on Sunday which was centred just 29 km south-southwest of Lata at a depth of 18 km, and a 7.0 aftershock late on Friday night.
Yesterday Temotu Province Premier Father Brown Bue confirmed that 594 homes have been destroyed and 3329 people have been displaced as a result of the tsunami and subsequent aftershocks.