Tongans face long wait for services to return after cyclone

Over 100 homes were destroyed in Nuku'alofa in Tropical Cyclone Gita. 13 February 2018

Over 100 homes were destroyed in Nuku'alofa in Tropical Cyclone Gita. 13 February 2018

Gita will track with an anticlockwise curve, passing the southeast of southern Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the days ahead and then directly southward into the Tasman sea passing to the west of Norfolk island.

Tonga has been lashed by a devastating tropical storm, with winds exceeding a speed of 230 km/hr, damaging various houses and commercial shops, flattening parts of the country's Parliament House and causing injuries across the country.

Most of Fiji dodged the cyclone, which headed their way after hitting Tonga, making landfall over the country's most isolated islands.

There are three villages on Ono-I-Lau and one on Vatoa with about 200 people in total.

Very strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge due to category 4 Tropical Cyclone GITA have affected the islands of 'Eua and Tongatapu (Tonga).

In the wake of the severe damage caused by Cyclone Gita, Vodafone has opened up free calling and texts to Tonga for all customers for the next 48 hours.

"I've been involved in disaster responses for 30-plus years and it's the worst situation I have been in", Kenna told Radio New Zealand. "While some in Viti Levu exercised caution as we advised them to do so, it was business as usual in Suva and Viti Levu".

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) New Zealand said it was prepared to respond to the disaster and had already dispatched emergency supplies to nearby Fiji.

A statement from the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs noted that Australia and New Zealand were sending humanitarian aid to Tonga.

"Initial assessments of the damage are still coming in".

The Tongan government's efforts to assess the extent of destruction by Tropical Cyclone Gita have been hindered by falling trees and downed power poles.

"The other staff members could only make it the next day and when they came they all fell in".

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra satellite saw powerful Tropical Cyclone Gita in the South Pacific Ocean on February 12 at 5:20 p.m. EST (22:20 UTC).

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