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23 Feb, 2016 10:47

Dozens killed after powerful cyclone ravages Fiji, looming Zika & Dengue threats (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Dozens killed after powerful cyclone ravages Fiji, looming Zika & Dengue threats (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Dozens of people have been killed by the powerful cyclone Winston, which has been ravaging Fiji in recent days. Experts warn that the island country can suffer possible outbreaks of the Zika and Dengue viruses.

The footage posted on the Fijiian government website shows a massive scale of destruction on the small island – whole villages have been flooded amid Winston’s destructive winds, which reportedly reached about 325 kph.

“The images emerging from early aerial assessments of affected areas are truly heartbreaking, leaving little doubt about the ferocity of this cyclone,” said Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator in Fiji.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the recovery process will take “a long time.”

READ MORE: ‘State of natural disaster’: Deadly Cyclone Winston strikes Fiji islands (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

“Almost no part of our nation has been left unscarred. And many of our rural and maritime areas bore the brunt of Winston’s fury,” he said.

Aid agencies said that Fiji now may face outbreaks of the Zika and Dengue viruses, both of which are caused by infected mosquitoes.

"The threat of dengue and Zika in the coming days in Fiji is real," said Chris Hagarty, senior health program manager at Plan International Australia. "The period immediately following a disaster of this scale can be a particularly dangerous one."

According to the UN, more than 8,100 people “are currently sheltering in evacuation centers” and 150 houses have been destroyed in the storm. 

“The cyclone is estimated to be one of the most severe ever to hit the South Pacific,” the organization said. 

According to Alice Clements, a Communications Specialist with UNICEF Pacific, “the amount of destruction to infrastructure [in Suva, Fiji’s capital], livelihoods and homes that something like this can do is just immense. It can also completely destroy or severely damage school facilities and health facilities.”