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Scramble to reach Fiji victims as Cyclone Winston death toll hits 42

The death toll in Fiji following Cyclone Winston continues to rise. Aid organizations are racing against the clock to get relief goods to those most severely affected by the storm.

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Huge cyclone leaves trail of destruction in Fiji

More deaths have been confirmed by the government of Fiji on Wednesday following Saturday's Cyclone Winston, the

first category five storm to ever hit Fiji

. The government now says 42 people have been killed.

Dan Gavidi is a senior communications official with the government of Fiji.

The latest figured from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says nearly 14,000 people are in 274 evacuations shelters. On the island of Koro, entire villages were destroyed in the wake of the storm. Downed communication lines have made communication between the country's islands difficult.

On Wednesday, the Fijian government issued a tender for a building contract to construct "pre-designed standard houses" in areas affected by Cyclone Winston.

The government has declared a 30-day state of natural disaster and has officially requested international assistance.

Neighboring nations such as Australia have responded to the call. The DFAT is Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Aid must arrive quickly as officials fear the destruction of crops and tainted water supplies could lead to a widespread health crisis.

With rescue efforts still underway, officials said the death toll could continue to rise. Fiji's population of 860,000 is spread across 110 of the Fijian archipelago's 332 islands.

mz/jil (AFP/AP)

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