Navy vessels prepare for Fiji departure

  • 25/02/2016
(NZ Navy)
(NZ Navy)

The death toll in cyclone-ravaged Fiji has risen to 42 as New Zealand Defence Force ships prepare to depart with supplies.

The HMNZS Wellington is set to depart from Auckland's Devonport on Thursday afternoon with essential supplies such as building materials, water storage tanks, and medical supplies.

Another ship, the sealift and amphibious support vessel HMNZS Canterbury, will set sail on Sunday.

A contingent of defence force and fire service personnel arrived in Suva on Wednesday night to help Fijian authorities with repairs to public buildings and critical infrastructure.

The New Zealand government has already pledged close to $2 million in aid for Fiji in the aftermath of the category five Cyclone Winston and aid supplies, including tarpaulins and generators, have been flown to the island nation.

Meanwhile, the official death toll in the country has risen to 42 as bad weather returns.

Nadi Meteorology director Ravin Kumar told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation rain and thunderstorms could be expected across much of the country on Thursday.

"It can be heavy at times and we expect the rains to ease from Friday," he said.

Aid organisations and Fijian government authorities have been racing to deal with a critical need for clean water, health supplies and emergency accommodation after powerlines, roads, jetties and homes were destroyed and damaged.

There are also concerns children won't be able to return to their classrooms next week, with damage to more than 80 schools.

Another 30 schools are being used as emergency centres.

Cyclone Winston made landfall late on Saturday as the most powerful storm in Fiji's history, delivering gusts as high as 325km/h.

NZN