Hero Cops

Constables, in dead of night, alert villagers about tsunami threat.
12 Feb 2021 10:59
Hero Cops
Police Constable Jovesa Tulala (2nd from left), Korotogo Village headman Apimeleki Ratubualiku (4th from left) and Constable Leveni Tokamato (6th from left) with villagers of Korotogo, Coral Coast, on February 11, 2021. Photo: Mereleki Nai

In the early hours of a rainy Wednesday, two Police officers woke up a village beckoning villagers to move to higher ground after a tsunami threat was issued.

In the darkness and drenched from the rain, Police Constables Jovesa Tulala and Leveni Tokamato, persistently knocked on every door at Korotogo Village, along the Coral Coast near Sigatoka Town.

Constable Tulala was alone on the graveyard shift at the Korotogo Police Post when at about 2.58am he was alerted by the Western Division Command Centre to sound the alarm.

He was on his way back from patrol coverage when he met Constable Tokamato, who also lives in the village.

“We immediately went to the village headman and informed him about the warnings and then helped knock on every door,” he said.

“We are obliged to serve whether we are on duty or off duty.

“We are working 24 hours for the safety of the people.”

In Korolevu, Sergeant Tabino Duaibe, sounded the alarm while driving in the Police vehicle to alert villagers, hoteliers, guests, businesses and residents alike.

A tsunami threat had been issued by the Department of Mineral Resources covering from Korolevu up to Sigatoka in Lawaqa.

In many other low-lying areas in this stretch, Police officers from the Lawaqa Police Barracks were awoken and immediately deployed to do the same, Police spokesperson Wame Bautolu confirmed.

The tsunami threat was a result of a major earthquake, with a magnitude 7.9, shallow depth of 24 km, that was triggered about 525 km from Noumea, New Caledonia.

The threat was later cancelled.

Despite the cancellation, the Police officers’ selfless acts were commended.

Korotogo Village headman, Apimeleki Ratubualiku said: “We acknowledge the Police officers for the great service they have done to this village.

“They have assisted us in many ways. When there is a cyclone or flooding around these areas they provide transportation to the evacuation centres.

“We salute them for sacrificing their lives to bring safety to every member of the community.

“For the past years we have received warnings like these, and we didn’t take it lightly.

“When there is an alert, we prepare ourselves and immediately make our way to the evacuation centres.”

In this case, the villagers moved to the hill closest to their village.

Minister for Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu said: “I am really impressed with the response from villagers.

“We are thankful that villagers co-operated with us.”

He was grateful for the fact that when people were given alerts, they acted promptly.

“I would like to acknowledge all the stakeholders. It’s better to react and listen to advice than giving in too late and feeling sorry,” he said.

“The safety and security of all Fijians is crucial, it’s not only a whole of government approach, but it’s a whole of society approach.

“We need to take responsibility, help each other and move together forward.”

He had also clarified that the emergency sirens in Suva and Lami were not activated because the assessments justified that there was no need for it to be activated.

“For last night, our office in Suva and most importantly the four divisional commissions were communicating with their reps in Yasawa and in the coastal villages along the Coral Coast in Viti Levu,” he said.




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