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Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Fiji flooding death toll climbs

Fijian villagers paddle through their flooded village of Wailotua in Fiji
Nearly 9,000 residents have now moved into emergency shelters

Floods in Fiji have claimed the lives of at least 10 people, including three children, as experts warned of further severe storms in the Pacific state.

A search is also under way for 24 people after their boat failed to reach port in the capital Suva on Wednesday.

Thousands of people are in temporary shelters, and a state of emergency is in force in parts of the nation.

At least one major international airline has scheduled extra flights to help evacuate stranded tourists.

International funds

Meteorologists say Fiji faces at least three more days of storms, in what has been described as the country's worst flooding in recent history.

Stay where you are, and take extra care. That's what we're telling everyone
Patiliai Dobui
Fiji's Disaster Management Office
The latest victim was a three-year-old boy who drowned in a river after it burst its banks on the northern island of Vanua Levu, the Fijilive website reported.

A rescue team is scouring the waters off the main island, Viti Levu, after a boat carrying 24 people - 18 adults and six children - was reported missing, the website said.

Several days of heavy rainfall have inundated towns, submerged roads and washed away bridges on Viti Levu.

A state of emergency remains in place in the west of the island, with the tourist hub of Nadi badly affected.

Map
"Stay where you are, and take extra care. That's what we're telling everyone," Patiliai Dobui, the head of Fiji's Disaster Management Office, told AP news agency.

The authorities say nearly 9,000 residents are now in emergency shelters, after their homes were swamped by muddy floodwaters.

Sugar producers say tens of millions of dollars worth of sugar cane fields have been destroyed.

The US and China have promised immediate assistance, as have Australia and New Zealand - despite the current diplomatic chill.

Both countries have sanctions in place against Fiji's military government in the wake of the December 2006 military coup.

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SEE ALSO
Six feared dead in Fiji flooding
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Deep divisions in post-coup Fiji
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