Search on for UAE visitors in Fiji as biggest cyclone in 20 years - Evan - nears

Flights cancelled stranding at least 1,900 visitors

Even as The Pacific island nation of Fiji was bracing for its biggest cyclone - Cyclone Evan - in 20 years on Monday, a search for any tourists or visitors to the island from the UAE was underway early Monday morning.

A senior official at the newly opened Fiji Embassy in the UAE told Emirates 24|7 that efforts are on trace tourists from the UAE, if any.

Airlines have cancelled flights to and from Fiji, stranding at least 1,900 visitors in the country. 

The same storm hit nearby Samoa late last week, destroying houses and killing four people around the capital, Apia. 

“We have already written to the Ministry that looks after natural disasters.

“We are concerned about the safety and well-being of visitors from the UAE and neighboring countries,” said Kelepi Abariga, Public Relations Officer at the Fijian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

According to reports authorities have set up more than 60 evacuation centres, warning people to take shelter ahead of Evan, a category four storm on a five point scale, that has been pounding areas of Fiji with high winds and rain.

Tourist resorts on many of Fiji's palm-fringed islands have been evacuated and authorities have set up more than 60 evacuation centres, warning people to take shelter ahead of Tropical Cyclone Evan. 

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has ordered public servants to remain at home and has put emergency services on standby. Hospitals and health centres have been closed for all but emergency patients. 

Power supplies have also been cut to some areas as a precaution against falling power lines, while banks have been closed. Airlines have cancelled flights to and from Fiji, stranding around 1,900 visitors in the country. 

 "I cannot stress enough how serious this is. Every Fijian will be affected but we must take preventative steps now," Bainimarama said. 

Cyclone Evan is moving at about 22 kmh and is due to pass about 70 km (45 miles) west of Nadi, the site of Fiji's main airport, late on Monday. 

Australia and New Zealand have offered support to Fiji ahead of the storm and have search and rescue personnel on standby. 

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