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Cyclone Yasa strikes another blow to Fiji

20 December 2020, Emergencies

Yasa is the 12th cyclone to batter Fiji in eight years

After reaching Category 5 ‘super’ status with wind gusts of up to 345 kilometres an hour, Tropical Cyclone Yasa tore across Fiji’s northern Vanua Levu on 17 December, 2020 leaving a trail of immense destruction. The eye of the slow-moving cyclone took about four hours to gouge its way across the island, triggering floods, landslides and blackouts before moving out to sea. It is estimated that 90,000 people have been severely affected, and tragically four deaths have been confirmed.  

Early reports compared the devastation wreaked by the cyclone as similar to a war zone. Entire villages have been wiped out, crops destroyed and communications cut. 


Cyclone Yasa has destroyed entire villages in the northern District of Fiji.  
Photo: Manasa Vula/ Save the Children Fiji 

 

Save the Children’s Fiji CEO, Shairana Ali reported soon after the storm had passed:

“Houses have been smashed to pieces and nothing remains…There are collapsed buildings, trees snapped in half and debris strewn all over the ground. Schools have been damaged and roofs blown away.

Cyclone Yasa was an incredibly ferocious cyclone and would have been extremely frightening for children. Supporting their wellbeing will also need to be an important part of any humanitarian response.

Now the important task of assessing the damage begins, rapidly determining needs and beginning relief operations. Families will need basic shelter, food, clean drinking water and other basic necessities.

Save the Children has a long history working in Fiji, and our teams are ready to support the recovery.” 


The damage caused by the cyclone is estimated by the Fiji government to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Save the Children’s expert teams are assessing the country’s greatest needs to determine the most effective forms of response. 

The latest in a pattern of destruction 

Tropical Cyclone Evan stuck Fiji almost eight years to the day before Cyclone Yasa. This makes TC Yasa at least the 12th storm to make landfall in the eight years since TC Evan. 

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, a long-time campaigner for climate action, blamed global warming for such super storms, which were once rare but have become relatively common.

"This is not normal. This is a climate emergency," he tweeted.

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