Strongest storm in 60 years batters Tonga in South Pacific

Vuna Road Nuku'alofa Cyclone Gita damage. 13 February 2018

Vuna Road Nuku'alofa Cyclone Gita damage. 13 February 2018

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.

As the Category 4 storm approached, communications were lost with isolated parts of the archipelago, leaving hundreds detached from contact with the outside world.

Desperate people boarded up their homes and stocked up on essential supplies while praying and hoping for the best before heading to the safety of emergency shelters.

Gita, a category four storm, battered the island overnight and caused widespread damage, reports the BBC.

"Those two kept it all night and one had to stay up at the center and the other one had to get supplies in the middle of strong wind and heavy rain and they should be commended highly and their commitment to help the people".

Wind gusts at Ono-i-Lau had reached 190km/h last night.

Leweniqila said crops on the southern islands had been damaged, but Fiji's most populated centers escaped serious harm as Gita passed south of Fiji's capital, Suva.

Air Commodore McEvoy says an Air Force's P-3K2 Orion aircraft has also just arrived in the area to conduct an aerial survey of the Tongan islands that suffered the brunt of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Britain's meteorological Met Office said Gita is maintaining its strength, and is the strongest cyclone to lash Tonga in 60 years. However, Tonga's century-old parliament building is among the confirmed structural casualties.

Fiji Red Cross prepare for Tropical Cylone Gita.

Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga's National Emergency Management Office said there were a lot of injured people, some seriously.

There are 176 islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, with only 40 inhabited, and officials fear the damage could be even worse in the more isolated islands, where information is slow to come out.

Noah Sukanasu, from the village of Matokana said told ABC News it was a terrifying experience.

"At the same time, we will be looking at our own A.D.R.A. network and also our worldwide donors if they can assist us".

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