Pacific radio news

Cyclone Gita devastates Tonga

By Ruci Farrell - ruci.farrell@pmn.co.nz

Power, water and phones are down in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa following Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Photo/ John Pulu.

Families battened down last night as the category four cyclone descended around midnight, packing winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour.

Nuku'alofa resident and former Tongan MP Sitiveni Halapua, who lives two kilometres from the wharf, says it's the worst cyclone he's ever experienced.

"The wind changed directions from the south to the western side and it was so strong," he says. "We couldn't see anything. All we could hear was the roaring and trees breaking and rooftops flying and we could hear the corrugated iron."

Photo/ John Pulu.

Tonga's National Emergency Management Office says there is no house that has not been damaged by Cyclone Gita.

The military and police force have gone into overdrive to clear the roads of fallen trees, broken power lines and debris.

Official sources confirm power and water will not be restored for a few days.

Tagata Pasifika reporter John Pulu describes the ordeal as one of the worst he's ever encountered.

"Devastating waking up to a lot of debris, corrugated iron and a lot of trees had been flying around," he says. "It was a horrible night."

"I have seen photographs on social media of homes that have disappeared. It's not looking very pleasant here at the moment."

Shop owner allowing locals to help themselves to what's left of his shop. Photo/ John Pulu.

Tropical Cyclone Gita is now moving towards Fiji and experts expect it to be upgraded to a category five cyclone before the end of the day. 

Watch full interview with John Pulu on Radio 531pi

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