NEWS

Fijians Safe As Australia Burns

Fijians were rescued from different locations and taken to evacuation centres after they had become trapped in towns surrounded by the bushfires in three States in Australia.
07 Jan 2020 12:45
Fijians Safe As Australia Burns
From left: Viliame Yabaki, with his father Solomone Roqito and Wilisoni Lomani.

Fijians were rescued from different locations and taken to evacuation centres after they had become trapped in towns surrounded by the bushfires in three States in Australia.

New South Wales, Queensland and now coastal Victoria are on fire. Heat and strong winds have caused the fires to escalate, and spread. The smoke is so thick that sunlight barely penetrates through.

Moce, Lau, native and former Fijian cricketer Viliame Yabaki, 28, who now resides in Melbourne, went for a holiday to Mallacoota along the Victorian coastline and near the New South Wales border where the inferno is burning out of control.

Mr Yabaki’s father, Solomone Roqito and grandfather Wilisoni Lomani, travelled from Fiji and he had taken them to Mallacoota for a holiday.

“It was scary as we had never experienced anything like that in our lives. The air was so thick with smoke and we could not see clearly,” Mr Yabaki said.

“We have been taken to an evacuation centre in Eden. For us in Mallacoota, we had become cut off from the road and there was no communication. It was scary.”

Mr Yabaki and his family members returned to Melbourne late yesterday.

Tamara Smith

Consultant and former Hibiscus contestant Tamara Smith is in Fiji, but is grateful that her family members who are in Mallacoota are safe. She said her family members were rescued by the Australian navy and taken aboard a ship.

Melbourne

Fijians living in Melbourne have declared themselves safe.

President of the Fijian Community in Victoria Sylivia Chand said: “We are all good here so far. The communities and government are supporting people where they can.”

Sneh Schie lives in an area where the bushfires claimed almost 200 lives in 2009. She said the bushfires were burning west of where she was in Melbourne.

“We are five minutes from where the 2009 fire happened. 200 plus people died here they couldn’t escape. Named Black Saturday for that fire incident,” she said.

“I think it was 43 degrees that Saturday and pretty strong wind as well. Around 100 knots that day. Can see the mountain where it happened from the drive way. Next month it will be 11 years.”

Former Fijian journalist Ifereimi Nadore, who now resides in Sydney, said from the information that he had, Fijians were safe and there had been no casualties.

Lupe Wolfgramm, also in Melbourne, said the Fijian Community there was organising a fundraiser to help with the relief and firefighting efforts.

She said the fundraiser is being organised by a local pastry chef in Melbourne, John Quai Hoi, at the Darebin Northwest Uniting Church Hall.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations permanent secretary Osea Cawaru confirmed that all seasonal workers had returned to Fiji in December. Right now, a red haze hangs in the skies over Australia, which has made the days darker. It is reported that skies in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand have turned orange as well from the fire smoke.

Thousands of homes have been lost and many displaced as Australia burns. No Fijian casualties have been reported.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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