Worse storms to come in Fiji as Aussies camp in airport

A number of Australians have set up camp at Fiji's international airport, desperate to leave as the country braces itself for further storms after five days of torrential rain.

While nearly all Australian passengers seeking to leave Nadi last night had flown out on relief flights, a number of travellers remained at the airport this morning, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said.

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"There are now sufficient hotel rooms available in Nadi for passengers who are unable to confirm a seat on a flight," he said.

"Some passengers are choosing to sleep at the airport to be sure they do not miss the next available flight."

Qantas this morning operated a relief flight from Nadi to Sydney that left at 11am local time, and was due to land at 2.40pm, a Qantas spokeswoman said.

About 230 passengers were on the flight, she said.

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They included almost all of the 100 Australians who had tried to get on flights out of Nadi last night, but who had been unsuccessful, the DFAT spokesman said.

A Pacific Blue-Virgin flight from Samoa to Australia was diverted to Fiji yesterday to pick up about 40 Australian passengers, he said.

About 1050 Australians flew out of Fiji yesterday, he said.

Despite the conditions, airlines were still flying into Fiji.

Qantas's airline partner for flights to Fiji, Air Pacific, said its flights to and from Nadi were operating normally.

"The adverse weather conditions have had minimal impact on scheduled operations with mild delays encountered due mainly to the delayed arrival to Nadi Airport of departing customers," the airline announced today.

Travellers were being allowed to defer travel plans to Nadi without penalty.

Air Pacific was allowing passengers to make changes until Sunday. Qantas allowed customers to make changes to their Fiji travel plans until tomorrow, but the new travel plans must be before February 10, a Qantas spokeswoman said.

More bad weather is predicted for Fiji, with severe flood and strong wind warnings again in force and roads again being closed, including in the Nadi area, the DFAT spokesman said.

The storms and floods have already ruined a number of homes and businesses and claimed at least eight lives.

Officials say a further 9000 people are in emergency shelters on the mainland island of Viti Levu.

A number of Australians contacted Fairfax Media yesterday to say they had been stranded in Fiji for a number of days. Some expressed anger at what they said was a lack of help from Australian consular officials.

DFAT said yesterday there were more than 1000 registered Australians in Fiji, although the numbers were expected to be significantly higher as many tourists did not register.

There has been no information about any Australians having been injured or taken to hospital as a result of the floods, DFAT said.

"The tourists are safe and well in their hotels, maybe frustrated and upset but safe and well," National Disaster Centre head Pajiliai Dobui said.

Mr Dobui said heavier rains were expected to arrive tomorrow with flood waters to rise even higher.

"The situation is not getting any better and we're urging people to stay safe in their homes."

Residents have told of losing "everything" in the floods.

"Everything is lost, gone, written off," said Vijen Doundai manager of Nadi's home supply store, destroyed by five days of torrential downpour.

Lounge suites, beds, lawnmowers sit in a soppy pile behind him.

"It is useless. We've lost everything. There is no option except to close and stay closed," Mr Doundai said.

Nadi's main street, usually busy with Australian and New Zealand tourists buying souvenirs and supplies, has now been closed, with most shops gutted, windows smashed and goods destroyed.

Dinesh Raniga's Indian clothing business, started by his grandfather 40 years ago, was destroyed in the floods.

"It was my dream to be able to carry on his dream but when you see all the clothes covered in mud you know it's over," Mr Raniga said.

Nadi residents wanting to travel trudge through thigh deep water balancing children and belongings over their heads or brave treacherous washed-out roads in four-wheel-drives.

Red Cross and emergency services were supplying blankets, water and food to evacuees.

- with AAP

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