Fiji braces for 2nd cyclone in 3 weeks

Suva: Disaster response teams were on standby in Fiji on Thursday as the Pacific island nation faced a second cyclone threat in less than three weeks.

Gale and heavy rain warnings were in place on northern Rotuma island and the Fiji Meteorological Service said the storm was expected to be fully fledged Tropical Cyclone Tino by the evening.

It is forecast to pass over the second largest island, Vanua Levu, on Friday.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and ready to help every affected Fijian," the government said in a statement after being briefed by the National Disaster Management Office.

"There is a cyclone alert in place. Please be prepared and take every precaution to keep yourselves and your families safe." There were concerns for an inter-island ferry with more than 100 passengers and crew on board which was drifting in the path of the storm after developing mechanical problems. But the rescue co-ordination centre said repairs had been made and the vessel had safely reached harbour in the capital Suva.

Just after Christmas, Fiji was hit by Tropical Cyclone Sarai, which left two people dead and more than 2,500 needing emergency shelter as it damaged houses, crops and trees and cut electricity supplies.

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