NATION

Village Hero Tells of Bid to Save Lives

Emosi Delaibatiki, 20, was the youngest of the individuals who were awarded the Bravery Medal by President Jioji Konrote at State House yesterday.
13 Jul 2019 18:58
Village Hero Tells of Bid to Save Lives
Bravery Medal recipient Emosi Delaibatiki following the Order of Fiji investiture ceremony at State House on July 12, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

February 20, 2016, is a day that will forever be etched in the minds of many Fijians. It was the day Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston made landfall and left a trail of destruction. It was also the day that turned a teenager into a man at village of Nasau on Koro.

Emosi Delaibatiki, 20, was the youngest of the individuals who were awarded the Bravery Medal by President Jioji Konrote at State House yesterday.

Mr Delaibatiki was only 17 years old when the killer storm hit Koro.

The beachside village of Nasau was among the worst hit on Koro. Not only did monstrous winds make light work of almost all structures in the village, the tidal surges claimed lives too.

Mr Delaibatiki was awarded the Bravery Medal for his efforts to get people to safety when a winds blew and the village was inundated with sea water.

“I realised I was fit and able to help the people of the village and that is what I did. I took people from Nasau to evacuation centres and returned to save as many people as possible,” he said.

“There were people who could not go up the hill, I managed to carry, push and pull them up the hill to safety. I cannot remember how many people I helped, but I had to do it because that was the right thing to do.

“Even though, there were times when I was tired, I kept running back to the village and checking houses to see if there was anyone I could help.”

The Fiji National University student has only one regret. He was unable to save a child who drowned in the tidal surge.

“I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I think the people of Koro will not forget that day either,” he said.

For now, the young Mr Delaibatiki is focusing on finishing school and gaining his Diploma in Information Technology. Edited by Epineri Vula

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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