THE deaths of seven people and the disappearance of an 11-year old boy in floodwaters were caused by negligence.
This was reported to the Disaster Management Committe (DISMAC) during a meeting chaired by Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki.
Divisional police commander Western Salacieli Navilawasa said the deaths were a result of people not taking heed of advice.
"All deaths were unnecessary and were caused by negligence. People need to take heed of the warnings and stay away from all waterways, especially now with the tropical cyclone alert which will bring more flooding and strong winds," he said.
He said five fishermen reported missing are safely back at home.
However, as a result of a rescue effort, the police boat used in the rescue mission was yesterday fighting strong winds and high seas in the Vatu-i-ra passage.
"These types of incidents where people don't take heed of warnings puts lives at risk and strains resources," he said.
In the meantime, there is growing desperation that resources are being stretched yet again after the revelation that about 12,000 people are sheltering at 117 evacuation centres.
The sharp rise from 7000 recorded on Sunday has again caught government's relief effort by surprise and sparked concerns from health and education officials.
Divisional education officer West Lorima Voravora said schools being used as havens for flood refugees have been hit twice.
Some have been swamped by floodwaters and others damaged by vandals who have sprayed walls with graffiti.
"We have noted damage to school property with people writing on walls and the sanitation facilities are all in a mess. This will essentially mean more costs to the respective school management and additional costs to taxpayers," he said.
Mr Voravora informed heads of government departments at a meeting in Lautoka yesterday that evacuees needed to be educated on how to use sanitation facilities and to respect school property. He said those placed in charge of evacuation centres need to be more vigilant and take control of the situation.
Health officials at the forum aired their concerns and said it was important that flood victims at evacuation centres be assessed to discern if any were carrying communicable diseases.
"We have to ensure that these issues are addressed and those with diseases like dengue, typhoid and leptospirosis be identified in order to minimise the risk of outbreaks," they said.