Monday, 22 October, 2018

A category 4 cyclone flattened Tonga's parliament

Tonga: Cyclone Gita leaves trail of destruction Cyclone Gita: worst storm in over 60 years destroys Tonga
Carol Daniels | 16 February, 2018, 06:16

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules carrying aid and a 10-member initial assessment team led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) arrived at Fua'amotu International Airport on the main Tongan island of Tongatapu on Tuesday evening.

"We're communicating as well with government officials who serve in these islands".

"Overall, damages to infrastructure have been minimal, but reports are still coming at this moment and we should have a clearer overview of the situation in the next couple of hours".

Ms Salesa's parents were in Tonga when Cyclone Gita hit overnight. "I think a lot of people were very desperate last night".

The Category 4 cyclone is not expected to strengthen to Category 5, as weather models earlier predicted.

New Zealand MetService lead meteorologist Michael Martens said the Category 4 cyclone arrived in the southern Lau island group about 6pm yesterday, slowly passing through until about 10pm. A strong wind warning also remains in force for the rest of Fiji.

Fiji's Red Cross Society had mobilised teams as the country braced for impact.

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Back in Tonga, the island nation was picking up the pieces after Gita passed through on Monday night, wreaking havoc with its powerful winds and torrential rain.

In this image made from a video, people stand near a house damaged by Tropical Cyclone Gita in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, Feb. 13, 2018.

"I have never experienced anything like that", Tonga High School French teacher Virginie Dourlet said. The cyclone was so severe that it ripped off the roof of the Tongan Meteorological Office and taking the national broadcaster off air for some time.

There were no reports of deaths, but several people were injured, Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga's National Emergency Management Office, told Reuters.

As the cyclone moved east towards Fiji, authorities warned communities to brace for conditions similar to cyclone Winston that ravaged the country in 2016.

And as the damage is assessed, we are also offering our assistance to Tonga in the form of personnel to assist in their relief effort and clean-up.

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