By Serafina Silaitoga of the Fiji Times
Eight-month-old Waseroma Rasavou survived 14 hours in an esky cooler as the savage tropical storm battered a remote Fiji village in one of the latest survival stories to emerge.
As last week’s severe tropical cyclone Winston damaged 19 properties at Nasaisaivua in Kubulau, Bua – including two church buildings and a hall – Waseroma lay sleeping soundly and safe in the esky.
The baby was covered with only a T-shirt and the esky lid above his head, keeping him away from the rain and strong winds.
When his dad, Waisake Bukaroro, saw the house shaking, he told his wife Mereani Mailekutu to take the two older children to the village hall while he prepared the esky.
At 4.25pm, Bukaroro said he put the baby into the esky, closed it and ran towards the village hall to join the other villagers who were taking shelter there.
But when they were about five metres away from the hall, the structure dropped before them and the other villagers ran out.
In this instance, he panicked with fright, caught in a dilemma to choose between saving his baby first or run towards the damaged hall to rescue his wife and other two children.
Bukaroro said it was a difficult moment but the love for his son forced him to take shelter in a roofless bathroom — about 20m away from the destroyed hall.
He said when they got to the bathroom, which was big enough for four people, the villagers were all crammed into the only safe haven at that time.
He carried the esky through the overcrowded room and stood among the villagers carrying the cooler until daybreak on Sunday.
Throughout the night, he kept opening the esky lid to see if his son was breathing.
He added his baby did not cry but slept under heavy rain and strong wind conditions.
661 schools opening today
Meanwhile, Newswire Fiji reports the Fiji government was asking schools around the nation to be understanding of the challenges being faced by students as 516 primary schools and 145 secondary schools around the country opened its gates for classes today.
Residents severely affected by Winston in the north-west of the main island of Viti Levu have received needed relief supplies during a three-day tour of the region by the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
Local businesses CJ Patel donated 5000 food packs valued at $232,000 and Punja and Sons another 5000 valued at $129,000 to assist the relief effort. R.C Manubhai has donated kitchen utensils to the value of $15,000 and mattresses and roofing supplies worth another $20,000.
The AG along with Minister Rosy Akbar and Minister Parveen Kumar distributed a large portion of the donated food packs from CJ Patel and Punja and Sons.
The AG’s tour took in cyclone-ravaged areas of Raviravi, Karavi and Yalalevu, (Ba) on Friday, Korobuya, Nabutini, Busabusa and Veisaru (Ba) and Korovou (Tavua) on Saturday, and Nadhari, and Navia (Ba) on Sunday.
It was the first time many of those affected by Cyclone Winston had received any form of assistance. The residents expressed their gratitude to the AG and the two ministers.