Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

'Worst storm in over 60 years' destroys Tonga's century-old parliament building

'Worst storm in over 60 years' destroys Tonga's century-old parliament building

This handout photo taken and received from John Pulu from Tagata Pasifika on February 13, 2018 shows flooding and damage in Tonga's capital of Nuku'alofa after Cyclone Gita hit the country.

At the time, the center of the intensifying tropical cyclone was located just to the south of the islands.

A Gale Warning remained in effect for Ono-I-Lau, Vatoa, Matuku, Totoya, Moala, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands and is cancelled for the rest of southern Lau.

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Spark CEO for Home, Mobile and Business Grant McBeath said: "Our thoughts are with the people of Tonga and Samoa, and those New Zealanders who have family in the islands".

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.

Updated: Severe Tropical Cyclone Gita remains Category 5 status as of 4pm today over warm ocean waters 1800kms north of Auckland, New Zealand. The Tongan government declared a state of emergency on Monday, Feb. 12 and advised the public to stay off the roads.

The Cyclone was responsible for lifting up roofs off homes, knocking down power lines and trees, bringing down electricity lines, ruining churches and levelling fruit trees and crops vital to the island's livelihood.

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There were no confirmed reports of deaths from the Category 4 storm, but there were a lot of injured people, some seriously, said Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga's National Emergency Management Office.

He says the survey would focus on Tongatapu and the neighbouring island of Eua, and determine the damage to major infrastructure including airfields, ports and hospitals.

"Likewise, we stand ready to help the people of Tonga as they recover and rebuild".

"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.

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Gita will then move to the south of New Caledonia, and as it makes its way into cooler waters, it will steadily weakening on its way towards New Zealand.

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