The category five storm was over the province of Bua, but a hurricane warning was in force for almost the whole country.
"The dust has yet to settle. but we are likely looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in damages".
Fiji was urging people near the coast to move to higher ground Thursday ahead of a nationwide curfew as the island nation prepared for a major cyclone to hit.
"Help that most probably will come when the winds die down". "But he didn't wake up".
More than 1400 people spent the night in evacuation centres, and there are already reports of widespread flooding and buildings flattened.
Sakeasi Waibuta from Fiji's Met Service said the storm sat over Vanua Levu for three hours.More news: Mar-a-Lago Neighbors to Trump: We Don't Want You Here
A flood warning remains in force for major rivers of Vanua Levu, for low lying areas and areas adjacent to Vatukacevaceva and downstream of Rakiraki Town and Korovou, Waimanu, Waidina, Qawa, Bagata, Dreketi, Lekutu and Lagalaga rivers. "The thunderous sound of the wind and what is flying around is what's frightening".
She said many people's houses had been flattened, with some sheltering under their beds or escaping with just the clothes on their backs.
"We are slowly getting reports from those remote areas and they are saying that they have never experienced anything like this type of cyclone which lingered in Vanua Levu for nearly four hours...the eye of the storm went directly over them", Ms Ali told SBS News.
"There's quite a few villages that are reporting that all homes have been destroyed", Save the Children's Fiji chief Shairana Ali told Agence France-Presse.
A teacher at Nacamaki District School in Koro, Ilisabeta Daurewa, said they are experiencing damaging winds and several kitchen sheds in the village have been blown away.
However, they warned of danger from flooding. "We are providing support to the Government of Fiji as it identifies and responds to emergency needs", Mahuta said.More news: Forbes Names Kylie Jenner As The Highest Paid Celebrity In 2020
Pineimarama said Yasa would "easily surpass" the strength of Hurricane Winston in 2016, recording the southern hemisphere's most intense tropical storm, killing more than 40 Fijians and leaving tens of thousands homeless.
"When daylight comes, then we'll know what damage has been done", added the hotel worker by telephone.
Bainimarama said authorities were scrambling to help affected communities.
The Fiji Times newspaper reported the cyclone had destroyed about 20 homes and a community hall in the village of Tiliva and that homes in other villages had also been damaged or destroyed. But by Friday, the cyclone's winds had dropped to about half that speed.
We're talking to people who've lost their entire homes, talking to people in evacuation centres that were destroyed also.
The curfew order was given as part of a declaration of a state of natural disaster, which will run for 30 days.More news: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sign Spotify podcast deal
"We are releasing emergency relief kits pre-positioned in Fiji in partnership with Rotary New Zealand, and are making funding available to the New Zealand High Commission to respond to needs on the ground as requested by Fiji".