December 7, 2007 / 1:04 AM / 12 years ago

Cyclone intensifies as heads towards Fiji

SUVA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A tropical cyclone bearing down on the South Pacific island nation of Fiji has intensified into a category four storm, the second most powerful cyclone, with destructive winds up to 200 kph (125 mph).

Cyclone Daman was earlier heading for Fiji’s main island Viti Levu and the capital Suva, but has changed course and is expected to hit the nation’s second largest island Vanua Levu on Friday.

Fiji’s Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad told local media that Daman had increased in intensity overnight and was "just one category short of being a super hurricane."

Fiji media were broadcasting warnings to residents on Friday to prepare for destructive winds, widespread flooding of rivers and high seas along low-lying coastal areas.

"A warning to everyone listening, Hurricane Daman is changing its direction quiet rapidly and is intensifying as it heads towards Vanua Levu. Take precautions now," said one broadcast. "Mariners do not go out to sea and people are advised to prepare for the worst."

Airlines operating in Fiji have cancelled some international and domestic flights due to the cyclone, reported local media.

Vanua Levu, with a population of about 360,000 people, is in the north of the Fiji island chain and has only limited tourism development, unlike the country’s main island Viti Levu and its internationally reknowned island resorts off its west coast. (Reporting by Michael Perry; editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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