Fijians are bracing themselves for a cyclone officials say is likely to hit the Pacific nation early on Monday.

Authorities scrambled to evacuate tourists and residents in low-lying areas on Sunday, and shops and homes were boarded up across the island.

 

 

 

More than 60 evacuation centres have been set up in Fiji

After causing death and devastation in Samoa, Cyclone Evan intensified as it ploughed through the Pacific and forecasters said destructive winds could reach nearly 300 kilometres per hour by the time it hits Fiji early Monday.

"I cannot stress enough how serious this is. Every Fijian will be affected but we must take preventative steps now," Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told the nation of about 900,000 on Saturday.

In the past few days, the storm battered the island of Samoa, where four people were killed, several others were missing and many homes destroyed.

Squally thunderstorms were expected to flood low-lying areas of Fiji while coastal villages were at risk of sea flooding, authorities said.

The international airport at Nadi was packed as 850 tourists were removed from luxury resorts on outlying islands,

Many residents were stocking up on essentials such as bottled water.

"We always expect the worst," said Beverly McElrath, a resident of Nadi on the main island of Viti Levu.

Another shopper also filling her supermarket trolley with food and water was pragmatic about the cyclone.

"We've been following it pretty closely, all the maps and everything," she said. "But you know, what else can we
do? Just stock up, sit nicely."

The Fijian government said more than 60 evacuation centres have been set up.

Source: Agencies