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Intense Cyclone Tomas Rakes Fiji and other Pacific Islands March 19, 2010
Slow-moving Cyclone Tomas can be seen passing through eastern parts of Fiji from Sunday through Tuesday.
Fiji’s prime minister said his South Pacific island nation had suffered “overwhelming” damage as Category 4 Cyclone Tomas battered northeastern areas for more than three days.

Initial reports said only one fatality occurred during the storm, which also destroyed dozens of homes and heavily damaged many more.

Tomas was packing winds of up to 130 mph as it roared through the northern Lau and Lomaiviti island groups and the northern coast of the second-largest island, Vanua Levu.

Wind gusts of up to 175 mph and storm surges of up to 23 feet were reported in areas that took a direct hit from the heart of the cyclone.

The Fiji island group had not experienced a Category 4 cyclone for several years, but some residents said they were lucky this time because Tomas’ high winds were not accompanied by heavy rain.

However, its slow movement across the country resulted in considerable structural damage.

Earlier, Tomas lashed the French overseas territory of Wallis and Futuna, where approximately 80 percent of the crops were destroyed by the storm. Many homes were destroyed and the main road on the northern side of Tutuna was washed away.

Tomas eventually lost force over the remote and cooler waters south of Fiji and Tonga.

Cyclone Tomas Track

Satellite Loop Data: CIMSS