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Death Toll Rises in Cyclone-ravaged Fiji

  • VOA News

This undated handout photograph released on Feb. 22, 2016, by the Fiji government shows a car driving past uprooted trees following Cyclone Winston in Fiji's western division.

This undated handout photograph released on Feb. 22, 2016, by the Fiji government shows a car driving past uprooted trees following Cyclone Winston in Fiji's western division.

The death toll from the powerful cyclone that struck the South Pacific island nation of Fiji on Saturday has risen to at least 29, as authorities rush to deliver aid to survivors.

Aerial footage taken of Fiji following Cyclone Winston reveals a typical picture of the aftermath of a devastating storm — a landscape filled with houses reduced to rubble, flooded streets, uprooted trees and scattered debris.The storm also knocked down power lines across the archipelago, leaving many residents in remote parts of Fiji cut off from communication.

Government spokesman Ewan Perrin said Koro Island has been "pretty much flattened.''

The category 5 storm made landfall on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu, carrying winds reaching 300 kilometers an hour, making it the biggest cyclone ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere.

WATCH: Video footage of devastation after Fiji cyclone

Authorities lifted a curfew Monday, but Fiji remains under a month-long state of natural disaster, and schools will be closed until next Monday. Thousands of residents are still sheltered in evacuation centers set up across the archipelago of 300 islands.

The cyclone affected the popular tourist resorts in Viti Levu's west, which were closer to the cyclone's center. Domestic and international flights that were canceled ahead of the storm have resumed to carry tourists from the devastation.

New Zealand has sent military aircraft to Fiji to assess the damage in remote communities and deliver relief supplies.

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