IBTimes UK

At least 17 people have died in the super-cyclone that hit Fiji over the weekend, Care Australia has said, citing Fijian government officials.

"Care Australia can confirm that figure of 17 dead," a Care spokesman told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

Aid agencies have warned of health hazards as more than 900,000 people in the country's low lying areas are living in tin shacks.

More than 8,000 people are staying in hundreds of evacuation centers across the country.

"The death toll from Cyclone Winston continues to rise and reports of widespread damage are coming in from across Fiji. It is clear that Fiji faces a major cleanup and recovery operation," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully told Reuters.

The official death toll from the tropical cyclone Winston stood at six, but the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation said least 10 people were dead and more were feared missing at sea.

The super-storm hit the Pacific island nation overnight on Saturday, packing wind of 325 kilometres per hour.

AFP reported international travellers to the popular tourist destination started fleeing the country after operations at the Nadi airport resumed after a two-day suspension.

The super storm was the first category five cyclone to hit Fiji and one of the most powerful storms recorded in the southern hemisphere.

"The Fijians are desperately trying to repair severed lines of communication, but they hold grave fears that the news waiting for them will be dire," Oxfam's Pacific regional director Raijeli Nicole told the news agency.

"Given the intensity of the storm and the images we have seen so far, there are strong concerns that the death toll won't stop climbing today and that hundreds of people will have seen their homes and livelihoods completely destroyed."