‘Alerts, warnings were issued’

Inclement weather was forecasted for Vanua Levu on Monday, the day Pacific Flying School’s Cessna 172 aircraft went missing.

Fiji Meteorological Service (FMS) director Ravind Kumar said alerts and warnings were issued and it was critical that people adhered to their advisories.

He said the FMS had sent out an advisory after an active trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain was found lying northeast of Fiji and it was closely monitored as it gradually moved over the country.

Mr Kumar said a heavy rain alert was issued for Vanua Levu, Taveuni and nearby smaller islands, Lau and Lomaiviti groups, eastern parts and interior of larger islands.

In light of the tragedy, Mr Kumar said their prayers were with the families of Merelesita Lutu, 21, and flying instructor Iliesa Tawalo — the two on board the aircraft when it lost contact with air traffic controllers around 12.30pm on Monday.

Mr Kumar said they had sent out warnings when the weather deteriorated.

“Our advice always is for the community to take heed of whatever advice there is and whatever warnings and alerts are in place, whether people are going out to sea or flying out,” he said.

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