Tonga: Cyclone Gita leaves trail of destruction

Vuna Road Nuku'alofa Cyclone Gita damage. 13 February 2018

Vuna Road Nuku'alofa Cyclone Gita damage. 13 February 2018

NASA's Terra satellite provided a visible image of Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Gita as it continues to bring heavy rainfall, powerful winds and storm surge to Fiji Islands after pounding the island of Tonga.

Mr Kenna estimated around 40 percent of houses in the capital had suffered some damage, many with roofs blown off.

Damage from Cyclone Gita on the islands of Tonga. In Fiji, no casualties or injuries have been reported.

A state of emergency was declared by the government prior to the storm and evacuation centers were set up.

"Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed".

The cyclone was tracking south of the main Fijian islands but National Disaster Management Office director Anare Leweniqila was particularly concerned for the southern islands of Ono-I-Lau and Vatoa.

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"Tonga has been hit very hard by Cyclone Gita resulting in a lot of damage".

Power was slowly being restored after the late Friday storm. Communities moved to higher ground as precaution to storm surges which is a lesson learned following tropical cyclone Winston. Some schools have water inside, and officials will conduct structural checks of the buildings.

It would downgrade further from a tropical cyclone to an ex-cyclone, likely becoming a category 2 storm on Monday or Tuesday, as it entered the relatively cooler waters of the Tasman Sea, Martens said. "It was a real shock for them".

"Successive legislatures over the years have suggested building a new parliament house and I guess that'll be a necessity now".

WeatherWatch.co.nz says there has been little change in the reliable worldwide modelling and private data we trusted from last Thursday when we first mentioned the storm and the potential of it hitting New Zealand. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to help the 50,000 residents recover.

Two of the New Zealand Pasifika media contingent in Tonga at work - John Pulu of Tagata Pasifika and TV1 News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver.

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