Communication confusion after Cyclone Winston

Communication confusion after Cyclone Winston

The death toll from Cyclone Winston in Fiji has risen to at least 29, with more still missing, and Newshub has discovered why the figure is still so unclear.

Three days on from the cyclone, today we were the first people to visit the outer island of Malake.

Communication lines have been so poor they haven't easily been able to get word out about the seven people who were injured there, and the absolute devastation the cyclone caused.

From the air, the Island of Malake looks abandoned, uninhabitable. Then, one by one, children start running and waving for our attention.

It's as though they've been shipwrecked and spotted help -- but this wreck is their home.

It's soon clear why they are so desperate for us to land.

They desperately need help -- food's running out, water's running out and they need more dry clothes.

One of the fishermen in the village calls himself Abel Tasman.

"As you can see all the houses been destroyed -- everything, everything has been destroyed -- clothes, houses, even the water."

Their fresh water supply from the mainland has been blocked off, so they rely on the rainwater in a well, for a population of 1400.

They averaged 10 people to a home before the cyclone hit; now, they just have to find shelter wherever they can get it.

Across the water in RakiRaki, the Kiwi-owned Volivoli Beach resort was torn to shreds.

Guests had been sleeping in the rooms when the cyclone tore through. Help was limited as the road back into town was blocked.

Helicopters had to come in and evacuate everybody, many of whom were injured from the flying debris.

Debris is all people can claim to own in some parts of Fiji now; some stand among it helplessly reluctant to go to the evacuation centres set up at schools.

On Malake Island they don't have a choice -- their school's been devastated, and hardly anything is left.