The death toll from a tropical cyclone in the Pacific island country of Fiji has reached 29, as humanitarian aid starts arriving in the country.
“The official death toll now is 29, another eight bodies were found on the island of Koro since yesterday,” government spokesman Ewan Perrin said on Tuesday.
He added that authorities are expecting the toll to rise as they are trying to reach remote areas of the archipelago.
Thousands of people in the nation of 900,000 people live in tin or wooden shacks in low-lying areas.
The powerful storm, named Winston, has so far left thousands of people displaced, with more than 8,000 still staying in evacuation centers.
Many are thought to remain homeless for months to come as a result of the high level of destruction caused by the cyclone.
“It is clear from these catastrophic impacts that Fiji is facing a long road to recovery.”
The worst hit region is Koro Island where authorities have warned of “catastrophic” damage.
Aerial footage of damaged buildings in the province of Rakiraki showed whole villages flattened and flooded after the cyclone tore through late on Saturday with wind gusts of up to 325 kph (200 mph).
Officials say some villages hardly have any buildings standing, and rescue teams have not managed to reach all parts of the country. Large parts have been left without power, communication, and water.
The government said it would send boats to remote locations in the archipelago of 300 islands to provide urgent aid.
There are growing fears of a widespread health crisis following the destruction of crops and tainting of water supplies.
Aid workers warned of potential outbreaks of the Zika and Dengue viruses, both carried by mosquitoes.
Food and water supplies are a growing concern even in areas such as the capital of Suva which did not suffer as much damage as the more remote regions.
According to figures provided by the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Winston is the deadliest cyclone to have hit Fiji or the southern hemisphere.
A 30-day declaration of a state of natural disaster remains in effect in Fiji.