Tonga cleans up as Fiji awaits cy­clone

Nelson Mail - - WORLD -

TONGA: Tonga be­gan clean­ing up yes­ter­day af­ter Cy­clone Gita hit, while some peo­ple in nearby Fiji be­gan pre­par­ing for the storm to hit them.

Gita de­stroyed homes and churches in Tonga and caused wide­spread power out­ages af­ter it tore through the is­land na­tion just south of the cap­i­tal, Nuku’alofa. There were no im­me­di­ate reports of se­ri­ous in­juries or deaths.

The cy­clone was pack­ing winds of over 200kmh when it made land­fall. The Ton­gan gov­ern­ment has de­clared a state of emer­gency.

The cy­clone was con­tin­u­ing to in­ten­sify and was pre­dicted to hit some of Fiji’s south­ern is­lands last night. Ex­perts are pre­dict­ing that the storm will miss Fiji’s ma­jor pop­u­la­tion cen­tres, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal, Suva.

About 2500 peo­ple liv­ing on two of Fiji’s is­lands were at risk, the na­tion’s Na­tional Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Of­fice said. Di­rec­tor Anare Leweniqila said emer­gency sup­plies of food and wa­ter were be­ing gath­ered, and he urged eld- erly and dis­abled peo­ple to be­gin mov­ing into evac­u­a­tion cen­tres.

The storm has strength­ened since hit­ting Samoa and Amer­i­can Samoa last week, where it caused dam­age to build­ings, wide­spread power out­ages and flood­ing.

United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has de­clared an emer­gency in Amer­i­can Samoa. This al­lows the US Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to pro­vide equip­ment and re­sources to help the 50,000 res­i­dents re­cover.

Chris Bran­dolino, a sci­en­tist at New Zealand’s Na­tional In­sti­tute of Wa­ter and At­mo­spheric Re­search, said flood­ing and coastal in­un­da­tion were likely to cause as many prob­lems in Tonga as the dam­age from the winds. New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said her gov­ern­ment was ready to help.

Be­fore the storm hit, pub­lisher Pesi Fonua said peo­ple were busy nail­ing boards and roof­ing iron to their homes to try to limit the dam­age from fly­ing co­conuts, trees and other de­bris. – AP

Cy­clone Gita caused wide­spread dev­as­ta­tion as it ploughed across Tonga, tear­ing the roofs off houses and churches, up­root­ing trees, leav­ing roads blocked by de­bris, and caus­ing flood­ing that saw homes be­come is­lands. The storm was pre­dicted to hit Fiji’s south­ern is­lands overnight.

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