A U.N. official says Tropical Cyclone Winston has so far claimed 21 lives and displaced over 8,000 people in what is reportedly the strongest recorded cyclone ever to hit the South Pacific.

Stephen O'Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in statement Monday that the United Nations stands ready to support the people and authorities of Fiji with any expertise and support they may need.

According to O'Brien the government of Fiji is leading the response, providing food and other supplies as well as emergency shelter. He said the government has declared a natural disaster and asked for international assistance.