Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are making progress in their efforts to support the Fijian Government with recovery efforts following Tropical Cyclone Yasa. The troops are delivering much-needed supplies to remote islands impacted by the category-five cyclone and doing repair work.
According to a joint statement by foreign affairs minister Marise Payne and defence minister Linda Reynolds, the personnel have been able to move on the next phase of their work after completing their full quarantine period.
Most off the ADF members deployed to Fiji were quarantined on board the warship HMAS Adelaide, while a small construction team worked onshore in Covid-19 safe bubbles.
Army’s Engineers are providing assistance
Payne said ADF teams have already made a good start in support of their Fijian counterparts and a small team from the Army’s 6th Engineer Support Regiment has been working hard alongside the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) as part of the initial phase of Operation Fiji Assist.
“Together, they have finished more than half the remediation and reconstruction works on the Galoa School and helped purify and provide more than 100,000 litres of clean water to the island of Vanua Levu.
“It is vital that HMAS Adelaide’s personnel are now able to cover the full breadth of their work, in particular delivering supplies to the more remote islands,” she stated.
Building materials and disaster-relief stores
Australian MRH-90 helicopters have also supported the movement of about 14 tonnes of building materials and 14 tonnes of humanitarian disaster relief stores from ship to shore.
Reynolds said now that the ADF can move freely onshore, they are able to provide support where it is needed most, including support to distribute temporary classroom facilities, deliver other critical supplies, and clear debris.
“We are proud to support our Fijian Vuvale, just as they supported us during the Black Summer Bushfires last year,” the minister noted.
Rebuilding and repairing school buildings
A key task of the ADF in Fiji is to help rebuild and repair school buildings in time for the start of the 2021 school year.
Cyclone Yasa struck Fiji and the surrounding islands of Vanuatu and Tonga on 11 December last year, reaching peak intensity on 16 December, before abating on 24 December. The highest wind speed recorded was 260 km/h. A total of four people were confirmed dead, with one missing.
Tropical Cyclone Yasa was the strongest tropical cyclone in the South Pacific since 2016.