9 April, 2018, 12:00 am
THE deadly weather experienced in the Western Division will worsen and lives will be at risk with the forecasted high chances of river and sea flooding of low-lying coastal areas as Tropical Depression 13F intensifies and moves closer to Fiji.
Fiji Meteorological Service director Ravindra Kumar said TD13F was anticipated to develop into a Category 1 cyclone in the next 12 to 18 hours.
“The environmental condition remains favourable for further intensification and TD13F is likely to pass just southwest of Fiji on Tuesday or early hours of Wednesday,” he said.
He said the high level of rainfall experienced across the country, in addition to unusually high tides and tidal surges caused by TD13F as it moves closer, placed coastal areas in the west and south of the country at a very high risk of floods.
At 3pm yesterday afternoon, TD13F was located about 770km west of Nadi or 790km west of Yasawa-i-Rara.
The outer active rainbands from TD13F have started to affect the western parts of the country.
As the system moves closer to Fiji, rain will become heavy and frequent from today. The effects of strong winds are also expected from today and increasing to damaging gale force winds later in tonight.
As intermittent heavy rain fell in the West yesterday, the number of people seeking shelter because of flooding continued to rise with 932 seeking shelter at 19 evacuation centres by 3pm.
Flooding associated with Tropical Cyclone Josie claimed five lives last Sunday with a seven-year-old boy from Vitogo Village, Lautoka, still missing.
Two more people lost their lives to flooding over the weekend and a man who was swept away by floodwaters in Navala Village, Ba, is yet to be found.
The latest flood victim was a 12-year-old Year 6 student who allegedly drowned while fishing with a neighbour in a creek behind the Natabua Corrections Centre, Lautoka, on Saturday afternoon.
Silio Samuela from Natabua Village was allegedly swept away by strong currents about 5pm Saturday.
His father, Akostino Baleqeleni, said his son’s four siblings had not slept since the family received news of his disappearance at 7pm on Saturday.
“They were very close and we still can’t believe Silio is gone,” he said.
Mr Baleqeleni said his son loved the water and would often go fishing or swimming.
“On Friday and again on Saturday, I told him not to leave the house or to go anywhere near the water.
“But he sneaked out of the house with a neighbour.
“Apparently, they went fishing and swimming at the creek behind the Natabua Corrections Centre and even though the water level wasn’t high, the current was very strong and Silio drowned when he went in.
“The neighbour he went with managed to pull him out and alerted Fiji Corrections officers who reported the matter to police.”