DENARAU ISLAND, FIJI, April 9 (Xinhua) -- Fiji is making preparations for tropical cyclone Keni, which has been upgraded to a category two storm and moves closer to the South Pacific Island state's largest island of Viti Levu and the country's southern islands.
Fiji's National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has been on standby over the last 24 hours and has nearly 400 personnel deployed as emergency response teams on the ground across the western and northern parts of the nation.
Anare Leweniqila, NDMO director, said on Monday that their priority areas in emergency preparedness is to ensure community advisories are delivered, activation of evacuation centers and adequate personnel for emergency deployment for search and rescue operations.
"We need to ensure that the communities are adequately advised of the looming tropical cyclone and also to ensure that the areas that have been affected earlier are also looked into in terms of ensuring that they are properly moved to safe evacuation centers especially for those that have had their homes destroyed and also in the affected areas, that is particularly the focus of the mobilization of government personnel that we are adequately prepared,he said.
Earlier Monday, 43 evacuation centers were activated with 2,060 displaced Fijians living in them. However, that number is expected to rise as more communities are inundated with flood waters particularly across the western part of the nation.
The director is advising the general public to move to their nearest evacuation center while it is still daylight if they feel that they may be caught in the flash flooding.
All schools in Fiji are closed on Monday and Tuesday as they will be used as evacuation centers if necessary.
Tropical cyclone Keni is moving east-southeast at 12 knots and is continuing to intensify.
The Fiji Met Service has predicted that the storm will come within about 120 kilometers of Nadi, Fiji's third largest city, by midday Tuesday and about 100 kilometers of the southern island of Kadavu later in the afternoon.
Heavy rain and storm force winds are expected and they will have serious impact across much of Viti Levu and the southern islands.