Gita destroys Tonga homes; Fiji next

A massive clean-up operation is now underway following the passage of the major tropical system which ripped through the south Pacific

Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program said via Twitter that villagers on Ono-i-Lau had told it that crops and several houses had been destroyed, but there had been no reports of injuries.

Cyclone Gita caused power outages after tearing through the island nation just south of the capital, Nuku'alofa, with winds exceeding 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) at landfall.

Tonga's Olympic flag Pita Taufatofua has sent a special message to his people tonight after the Pacific nation was battered by Cyclone Gita earlier in the week.

"I have never experienced anything like that", Tonga High School French teacher Virginie Dourlet said. Gita could be the strongest cyclone to ever hit the country.

New Zealand donated over $500,000 in emergency aid to Tonga and deployed a military aircraft with emergency supplies to the island.

The government declared a state of emergency before the storm hit, and set up evacuation centres where thousands of people stayed overnight.

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Digicel Tongas network restoration well underway Tuesday, 13th February 2018 Suva, Fiji As recovery efforts are now underway in Tonga, Digicel is working round the clock to get critical communication services back up and running so that ... He wrote in the social media post that he wished he could be back home to help.

Hurricane warnings initially set for the Fijian islands of Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa on Tuesday were downgraded to a storm warning after Gita headed west, the Fiji National Disaster Management Office said.

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.

Tonga's parliament building is more than 100 years old.

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.

Power was slowly being restored after the late Friday storm.

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