SUVA - Fijian naval vessels and Australian and New Zealand aircraft headed to isolated islands Thursday to assess the devastation from this week's cyclone.
Cyclone Tomas, which packed average winds of 175 kilometres (109 miles) an hour, caused widespread devastation in Fiji's north and east on Monday and Tuesday, although only one death has so far been confirmed.
Some of the isolated islands remain out of contact and officials said Tuesday around half of the buildings in the eastern Lau group may have been destroyed or damaged.
But aerial surveys of some northern areas on Wednesday suggested damage may not be as bad as initially feared.
The top official for the northern region, Inia Seruiratu, told Fiji commercial radio that an aerial inspection of the northern island of Cikobia, where communications had been cut since the cyclone struck on Monday, had revealed widespread damage to vegetation, buildings and infrastructure.
"But overall, the extent of the damage is not as bad as we anticipated, so that is good news," he said.
New Zealand air force squadron leader Kavae Tamariki said low cloud had hampered the inspection by the C130 Hercules aircraft.
"From the air there were pockets of destruction but it didn't seem as bad as we initially thought," Tamariki told Radio New Zealand.
Three Fijian naval vessels left the capital Suva Wednesday night for regions in the north and east to assess damage and deliver relief supplies, including food, water containers, tents and tarpaulins.