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Deadly Cyclone Hits Fiji Causing Widespread Destruction

Road workers remove a fallen tree blocking a road near Lami, Fiji, Feb. 21, 2016, after cyclone Winston ripped through the country. Officials in Fiji are assessing damage in the wake of the ferocious cyclone that tore through the Pacific island chain.

At least 10 people have been killed in a powerful cyclone that struck the South Pacific island nation of Fiji Saturday.

Authorities have begun deploying storm teams and cleanup crews throughout the island chain to assess the damage from Cyclone Winston, a category 5 storm with winds reaching 300 kilometers an hour and higher gusts, making it the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Fiji. Initial reports say hundreds of homes have been destroyed, power lines are down and streets flooded across the archipelago.

The government has imposed a nationwide curfew and declared a month-long state of natural disaster. Scores of residents have sought shelter in evacuation centers set up across Fiji.

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At Least 5 Killed as Cyclone Hits Fiji
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According to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Cyclone Winston hit the north coast of Viti Levu - the main and largest island of the more than 330-island archipelago.

The cyclone affected the popular tourist resorts in Viti Levu's west, which were closer to the cyclone's center.

Fiji's capital, Suva, located in the southern part of the island, experienced high winds but was not directly in the cyclone's path.

Many domestic and international flights in and out of Fiji have been canceled.
Fiji's prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, told Fijians: "As a nation, we are facing an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We must stick together as a people and look after each other. Be alert and be prepared."
New Zealand has sent a military aircraft to Fiji to assess the damage in remote communities.