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Flights cancelled as Cyclone Evan hits Fiji

Flights into and within Fiji have been grounded as Cyclone Evan strikes the Pacifc island nation.

Evan, a category four storm, was this morning lying to the north of the Fijian capital Suva, knocking out power to some areas and causing flash flooding.

Air New Zealand has confirmed today's flights to Nadi have been delayed until tomorrow.

A spokeswoman said NZ752, which would normally depart Auckland at 10.15am and then return to Auckland as NZ753, would leave a day later.

The rescheduled departure time for NZ752 is now 12.30pm tomorrow. The regular scheduled Tuesday flight to Nadi (NZ52) will still operate at its regular departure time of 06.50am.

Fijian airline Pacific Sun had put a halt to all flights between Suva and Nadi to Labasa, Taveuni, Savusavu and Kadavu.

The government had imposed travel restrictions on a number of places in the Northern Division.

Commissioner Northern Lieutenant Colonel Ilai Moceica told the Fijian Times it was "necessary to save lives".

To the northwest, power was out and a lockdown in force for the town of Labasa.

Police had stepped up their presence in the town, which was being hit by high winds.

Flash flooding has threatened a number of homes.

The province of Bua had opened evacuation points as the cyclone swept into the country, the Fiji Times reported.

A curfew had also been placed over the northern divison and Fiji authorities were reporting more than 800 people had already moved into evacuation centres.

More than 400 New Zealanders in Fiji had registered with the High Commission an official told Radio New Zealand.

Resident Matt Myers said the rain in Suva was "moderate" so far, although it was "very windy". He said he could still see taxis and cars driving about.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said no decisions had yet been made on what support New Zealand may offer Fiji. "It's really a case of waiting to see what happens," she said.

'GHOST TOWN'

Fairfax reporter Marc Hinton, who is in Fiji, said the Hilton Resort on Denerau had all but shut down, and it was a "waiting game" to see what happened.

"The wind is just starting to really cut, and it is only just starting to rain lightly.

"At the hotel they got breakfast over done with and now the restaurant's been in lock down since 9am."

Hinton said there were "a few nervous looking people at breakfast this morning", and the reception area had closed down and relocated to another part of the hotel.

He said Nadi was a "ghost town", with many of the shops closed and windows boarded up.

"It's a bit of a weird feeling, because you don't necessarily keep up to date with the weather and news when you're on holiday, you generally know what it's like as it's happening around you.

"Now we're just waiting. There was certainly an ambivalence among the guests on Saturday, but as the hotel began to inform people the mood has definitely changed since then."

Hinton said the cyclone was expected to hit their area this morning, but that had since been updated and they were expecting it to peak about 6pm.



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