Damage assessment begins after Fiji floods

Floodwaters inundate the tourist town of Nadi on the island of Viti Levu in Fiji on 2 April, 2012 Days of flooding have hit tourism and forced thousands from their homes

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Fiji's government is sending teams to assess damage caused by days of severe flooding that killed at least five and forced thousands out of their homes.

A state of emergency was declared in the South Pacific nation on Sunday.

Authorities feared the worst on Monday with a tropical cyclone bringing more rain and strong gales, but the worst appears to be over, says Information Secretary Sharon Smith-Johns.

The survey teams will also distribute food rations in affected areas.

''We have also organised teams to make aerial assessments which will happen today. As of yesterday we had dispatched two boats,'' Pajiliai Dobui, director of the disaster management centre, DISMAC, told Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Map showing affected areas of Fiji

Some Fijians had begun returning to their homes, as the rain stopped and waters began to recede, said Ms Smith-Johns.

Some 8,000 people have been taking shelter in evacuation centres on the largest island of Viti Levu for days as the floods have cut off water and electricity to some areas.

Thousands of tourists - many of whom are Australians - were also left stranded in the country when flights were cut off over the weekend.

They are expected to be able to leave Fiji today as flights resume, Australian media reported.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who has been visiting affected areas, has called for a solution to the country's flooding problems, saying that this was ''three to four times worse'' than the last devastating flood in 2009.

Flooding in January this year in the Pacific island nation left at least six dead.

''We have to make some hard and fast decisions on what to do with infrastructure, with our rivers and our dredging together with a whole lot of other issues so we don't continue to get bogged down every time there is heavy rain," he said.

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