Tonga Parliament building flattened by cyclone Gita

Cyclone Gita batters southern Fiji, upgraded to category five, heading for Vanuatu, New Caledonia

Tonga: Cyclone Gita leaves trail of destruction

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

"The aerial survey will help assess the scale of the damage wrought by the cyclone and help Tongan authorities determine the next steps in their emergency response".

"We have been trained to respond in times of disaster with first aid, body management, food management and we also have policies in place when such disasters occur".

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

According to Graham Kenna from the National Emergency Management Office of Tonga, the damage caused by the storm was severe and widespread.

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The Category 4 cyclone is not expected to strengthen to Category 5, as weather models earlier predicted. Gita's eye was located near 21.1 degrees south latitude and 179.1 degrees east longitude, about 190 nautical miles south-southeast of Suva, Fiji.

Britain's meteorological Met Office said Gita is maintaining its strength, and is the strongest cyclone to lash Tonga in 60 years.

"The sea is reasonably rough and that changed in the last hour or so".

Of course landfall in New Zealand is still not 100% locked in - we'll have more confidence by the end of this week but it's looking more likely with each day.

Fiji Red Cross prepare for Tropical Cylone Gita. The man was rushed to hospital on Monday night, but died before arrival.

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"Our house is gone already and the cyclone is not even there yet".

"I have never experienced anything like that", Tonga High School French teacher Virginie Dourlet said.

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

"The Defence Force plane is ready to go, we have equipment at the ready to make sure that we could provide safe drinking water, shelter".

As we did two years ago next week with Cyclone Winston, the Fijian people join hands in solidarity with each other and with our Tongan neighbours.

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