The Pacific Community (SPC) is offering its prayers and practical assistance as Fiji rallies to assess the scale of the impact of tropical cyclone Winston.

The Pacific Community Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, has written to Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, offering to deploy specialist SPC teams to assist the Fiji Government’s response, based on the nation’s needs in the wake of the powerful cyclone.

Dr Tukuitonga said the 390 SPC staff based in Fiji are believed to be safe, although the homes of several employees are known to be damaged, with one colleague in the Lautoka area losing the roof off his home.

SPC’s offices in Fiji – in Suva, Lautoka and Labasa – are closed today.

“As per our long-standing practice in this disaster-prone region, the Pacific Community stands ready to deploy disaster response teams and provide technical assistance as needed to reinforce the Fiji Government’s capacity,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the government and people of Fiji, including our many colleagues and development partners who are based there,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

While the extent of damage at SPC offices and project sites is yet to be determined, Dr Tukuitonga confirmed the globally-significant tissue culture collections at SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees in Suva are unaffected, as the building is intact and there is a back-up generator maintaining the temperature in the storage laboratories.

Media contacts: Julie Marks    Pacific Community Communications Director, juliem@spc.int or +687 80 74 95
Lauren Robinson    Acting Media Relations Team Leader, laurenr@spc.int or +679 923 6432

NOTES TO EDITORS: The Pacific Community is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, proudly supporting development since 1947. We are an international development organisation owned and governed by our 26 country and territory members. We respond to our member governments’ requests for assistance following disasters and provide a range of ongoing services to improve disaster preparedness and response in the region. See www.spc.int.

Photo courtesy Fiji Government and UN OCHA: Fiji Government aerial survey of eastern islands following tropical cyclone Winston