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Fiji pro-actively preparing for disasters: minister

Monday January 7, 2013 - 21:57 EDT

Fiji suffered less damage from Cyclone Evan because of better preparation, says the country's interim Minister for National Disaster Management.

A state of disaster was declared after Evan hit the Pacific island nation last month, causing widespread damage to several cities and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu says preparations began as soon as the cyclone watch was started by the Fiji Weather Service.

He told Radio Australia's Fiji is putting less emphasis on recovering from disasters, and more on minimising the risk of damage.

Lieutenant Colonel Seruiratu says it's not just luck that saw Fiji escape with less damage than Samoa.

"It is a need for us to shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention," he said.

"We need to be proactive, and we need to do a lot of planning and we need to do a lot of analysis because if we prepare, well then obviously, the cost and the damage can be minimised."

Fiji authorities are still working to restore electricity and water supplies in the cyclone-damaged Western Division and some island communities.

In Samoa, Cyclone Evan killed five people and displaced more than 4,000 thousand before hitting Fiji.

At least 12 people are still missing in Samoa in the wake of the devastating cyclone.


© ABC 2013

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