Sharon Smith-Johns said 3500 people have taken refuge in evacuation centres after people were warned to prepare for the worst.

She said although the lack of early casualties was encouraging, people need to be aware of the proposed dangers.

She told Radio New Zealand that they were as read as they could be. She said: “The extent of the damage, I don’t think we’re going to know until tomorrow morning when we wake up and see how badly it has hit.”

Thousands have retreated to evacuation centres whilst airlines have suspended flights going in and out of the country.

The military government warned that Evan could be the most destructive cyclone to his the island since 1993.

Cyclone Kina hit nine years ago, leaving 23 people dead and thousands homeless.

Lautoka, Fiji’s second-biggest city was severely affected by Evan. Resident Janet Mason told RNZ that an empty house flew through the air and landed next to hers.

New Zealand searchers have been looking for 10 fishermen who have been missing since the cyclone hit Samoa. They believe that they have found one of the four missing boats.

A spokeswoman for the prime minister told RNZ that four people have already died and more causalities are feared.

She told the radio station that the damage to the Samoan island of Upolu looked worse than the 2009 earthquake and tsunami that killed 135 people, according to aerial surveillance.

An emergency grant of $NZ10,000 ($A8,098) was given to the New Zealand Red Cross to help with the damage.

Many holiday-goers have been told to stay in their hotels to wait, as the worst of Cyclone Evan is yet to hit.

Joanna Foster, who went on holiday to Fiji from Australia with her partner Brendon Taylor, said the hotel had warned guests to stay inside and had placed sandbags along the sea front, reported

She said: “It’s mainly wind and rain. The hotel is fairly confident we will be okay; it’s one of the more modern hotels. They are a little bit concerned about a storm surge on the ground floor.”

The couple travelled to Fiji on Saturday in hope for a well-needed break, only to fly into a storm.

“We have essentially come to Fiji for a cyclone, we leave on Thursday,” she told


However, they are better off than those on the main island of Viti Levu, which has been hit by power outages and flooding.

Many parents were left relieved, as Australian Schoolies have been evacuated before the cyclone hits the island nation.

Unleashed Travel, which arranges school leavers’ trips to the island, announced that it had arranged for all Schoolies to leave Fiji safely.

On their Facebook page, they wrote: “We can now confirm that all schoolies are on a flight out of Fiji. Thanks for everyone’s patience and understand in these trying times.”

Australia vowed to assist the Fijian Government if needed.

A mass SMS was sent to the 2100 Australians that are registered in Fiji, said a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson. The text recommended they listen to advice from local authorities.

In a statement, the DFAT said: “High Commission staff are also in contact with island resorts where Australians are likely to be and have indicated that those resorts are evacuating guests to the mainland in advance of the storm front.

“Those travelling to or from Fiji should check with airlines first to ensure that flights are still operational.”

Budget airline Jetstar cancelled all of its flights to and from Fiji.

“Safety remains Jetstar’s number one priority. We will continue to monitor the activity of Cyclone Evan to assess its impact on flight operations and provide further updates as soon as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience,” the airline wrote on its Facebook page.

DFAT urged Aussies to stay alert and informed. They said: “We encourage Australians in Fiji to follow the instructions of local authorities and monitor the media for the latest developments,

“You should carry your travel documents at all times or secure them in a safe, waterproof location.”

Winds are expected to reach nearly 300km/h by the time it reaches Fiji on Monday.

Philip Duncan, head analyst with the meteorological service, told “Gusts may end up climbing to 280km/ per hour or greater around the centre of Evan.”

“Some small, low-lying communities and resorts may suffer catastrophic damage and some small islands may be entirely submerged as the storm and storm surge roll by.”

If you’re worried about a loved one in Fiji, contact the Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135.

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