NEW Zealand searchers are now looking for 10 fishermen off Samoa since Cyclone Evan hit the island nation after a fourth boat was discovered to be missing.
As the destructive cyclone crossed Fiji, a New Zealand Air Force Orion continued its search for the missing Samoan fishermen.
It was initially thought eight were missing from three boats but Rescue Coordination Centre search and rescue mission co-ordinator Kevin Banaghan says they now know of a fourth boat.
“We have now been advised that a fourth fishing boat has been confirmed missing, with a total of 10 men still to be accounted for,” he said.
“Each boat had three crew aboard, but two men, from different boats, have made it to shore.”
A French Navy guardian aircraft is helping with the search.
Meanwhile, the cyclone has now reached Fiji, running one bulk carrier ship aground and causing destruction in Rakiraki, the Fiji Times website reported.
The ship Starford, believed to be carrying equipment for a Chinese firm constructing a highway, dragged its anchor about 11.30am local time (0930 AEDT) and was pushed onto the reef in Suva Harbour.
In Rakiraki, the Vaileka River has burst its banks and water is flowing into the town.
Evan was still rated as a category four storm by the Fiji Meteorological Office shortly after midday, with winds were reaching 170km/h with gusts of more than 230km/h.
The Fiji government urged people in low-lying areas to take shelter on higher ground.
A number flights in and out of Fiji have been cancelled or delayed.
Cyclone Evan caused widespread destruction in Samoa, killing four people and displacing about 4000.
New Zealand Red Cross has deployed a specialist team of five delegates and an emergency grant of $NZ10,000 to help deal with the damage in Samoa.
Air New Zealand is allowing all passengers flying from Auckland to Apia between December 17 and December 30 to take one extra piece of checked luggage, up to 23kg, free of charge, though the extra baggage won’t travel until after Christmas while the planes carry relief supplies.