HEAVY rain experienced around the country over the past few days have been blamed for a death, a helicopter crash and landslides.
Dead is 61-year-old Alekesio Nawaqavou, a dalo farmer of Kicukicu settlement in Cakaudrove who was swept away in currents caused by heavy rain.
Tim Gibson escaped with minor injuries after the helicopter he was piloting crashed into the sea off Uduya Point in Lami yesterday and a family was forced to leave their home following a landslide.
The helicopter that crashed about 7.10am is owned by Island Choppers.
Acting police spokesman Corporal Joe Weicavu blamed bad weather conditions for the crash. He said Mr Gibson received cuts and bruises and after medical examination was sent home to rest.
Cpl Weicavu said Mr Gibson would be interviewed later.
Island Choppers managing director, Stephen Green said two helicopters were travelling from Nadi to Nausori, on their way to Fulaga in the Lau Group.
He said Mr Gibson, 45, was flying the first helicopter alone while his colleague Robbie McKenzie was on another with five other passengers travelling to Fulaga.
Mr Green said after leaving Nadi the pilots spoke with the Nausori control centre which informed them of the sudden change in weather conditions. He said they were hoping to make a safe landing when Mr Gibson's helicopter crashed into the sea.
Mr Green said the $2 million helicopter was a write off.
He said Mr McKenzie picked up his colleague and they all returned to Nadi.
Mr Green said Namaka police interviewed Mr McKenzie while Mr Gibson had not been interviewed.
He said Mr Gibson was checked by a doctor and sent home. Mr Green said Mr Gibson who hails from New Zealand has twenty years experience as a pilot.
Attempts to contact Mr Gibson were unsuccessful yesterday. Mr Green said his company had three helicopters prior to the accident, which was used for the purpose of passenger transfers to the Mamanucas.
Meanwhile, the Director of Meteorology Rajendra Prasad yesterday said people must expect flash floods as a result of the current weather situations.
He said there was a trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain bands that remained slow moving over the group.
Adapted from Fijitimes Online