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Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Monday, 12 January 2009

Six feared dead in Fiji flooding

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People struggle through the floodwater

Severe flooding caused by four days of torrential rain in Fiji has left at least six people feared dead.

Thousands of people have had to move into evacuation centres and the downpours are expected to continue.

A state of emergency has been declared in western parts of the main island of Viti Levu, when flooding inundated the tourist centre of Nadi.

The military government said it was trying to cope with damage including disruption to power and water supplies.

Four people were believed drowned over the weekend and two more were buried in landslides in the Pacific nation, local reports said.

The highway linking Nadi - where the country's main international airport is situated - and the capital, Suva, was reopened Monday but many areas remained affected by floods.

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More than 6,000 people were reported to have sought refuge at 114 evacuation centres around the country since the weekend.

"Widespread flooding, including severe flooding of major rivers and streams, is expected on Wednesday and Thursday. The western division is likely to be worse affected once again," said Fiji's director of meteorology, Rajendra Prasad.

Sugar cane crops have been flooded, roads severed and bridges submerged by surging floodwaters.

The New Zealand government announced it would send aid through the Fiji Red Cross, despite fractured relations following the military coup in Fiji that brought Frank Bainimarama to power in December 2006.

Relations with neighbours New Zealand and Australia have deteriorated amid a series of mutual diplomatic expulsions.

Fiji has endured four military coups since 1987.

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