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Fiji residents requested to stay inside as cyclone looms

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SUVA — Authorities in Fiji requested individuals to stay inside as a tropical typhoon weighed down on the Pacific tourist destination Wednesday, taking no chances after a recent monster storm killed 44 people.

Tropical Cyclone Zena quickly rapidly developed from a low pressure trough to an intense category three storm that was approaching the main island Vita Levu, the Fiji Meteorological Service said.

It was preceded by heavy rains that left one man confirmed dead and a teenage girl missing in flash flooding that also blocked major highways.

The latest emergency comes with the nation of 900,000 still reeling from super cyclone Winston in February, which left 44 dead, 60,000 homeless and crippled infrastructure.

“To preserve safety and public order prior to the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Zena, all members of the public are to remain indoors and secure their properties until further notice,” the government said, adding police would enforce the curfew.

Fiji Airways cancelled most international flights and schools were closed.

The cyclone, packing gusts of 170 kilometres (105 miles) per hour, is expected to brush the south coast of Vita Levu early on Thursday.

The path and intensity of such storms are hard to predict — Winston appeared to be weakening offshore at one point before roaring back as a category five cyclone with 325 kilometres an hour winds.

While Zena is not expected to match that ferocity, the UN children`s organisation UNICEF said it “could not come at a worse time for children and families in Fiji”.

“These are the same families that were directly affected by Cyclone Winston just over a month ago,” Suva-based spokeswoman Alice Clements said.

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“Far too many are sheltering under tarpaulins, pieces of salvaged corrugated iron, in tents or again in evacuation centres.”

The Red Cross said volunteers were ready to distribute water purification tablets, jerry cans, and tarpaulins but had to wait for the weather to clear.

“As soon as the situation is safe, we will get out and assess the damage,” said the charity`s Viti Levu western division coordinator, Mohammed Hafiz.

“But it could be Friday, or at worst, Saturday, before this will be possible.”

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said strong winds could bring down temporary shelters and buildings weakened by Winston, while a further 200 millimetres of rain in 24 hours would aggravate the floods.

The agency said almost 3,600 people were already sheltering in 79 evacuation centres.

AFP

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Over 70% of deep-sea fish of Atlantic Ocean have ingested plastic : Study

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Fragments of plastic are found throughout the world, from nearly every continent to nearly every body of water. But, researchers recently have found 73 percent of Northwest Atlantic deep-sea fish are also eating it — the highest reported frequency of plastic-eating fish in the world.

Plastic particles were found in some of the most remote parts of the Atlantic Ocean with almost three quarters of a sample of more than 230 deep-water fish collected by NUI Galway scientists having ingested plastic particles.

The contamination level among the fish species, located in the northwest Atlantic thousands of kilometres from land and 600m down in the ocean, is one of the highest reported frequencies of microplastic occurrence in fish worldwide, according to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The NUIG scientists, as part of the study, participated in a transatlantic crossing onboard the marine institute’s Celtic Explorer vessel.

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PhD candidate and lead author Alina Wieczorek said, “Deep-water fish migrate to the surface at night to feed on plankton [microscopic animals] and this is likely when they are exposed to the microplastics.”

During this research cruise they took dead deep-sea fish from midwater trawls such as the spotted lanternfish, rakery beaconlamp, stout saw-palate and scaly dragonfish.

Microplastics are small plastic fragments that commonly originate from the breakdown of larger plastic items entering the ocean. Other sources may be waste water effluents carrying plastic fibres from clothing and microbeads from personal care products. Due to their low density, most of these microplastics float at the sea surface.

The fish ranged in size from the smallest species the Glacier Lantern at 3.5cm to the largest species, the stout saw-palate at 59cm.

Agencies

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