Tourism

“It was horrific”: Tonga belted by category four cyclone

The South Pacific nation of Tonga has been lashed by a category four cyclone overnight, flattening buildings throughout the county.

Tonga has now declared a state of emergency in the wake of the cyclone.

Cyclone Gita hit land last night with winds topping 230 kilometres per hour.

According to ABC News, Tonga’s Parliament building was ravaged by the storm, as well other buildings in the main island.

Speaking to ABC, Graham Kenna from Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) said: “It was a terrifying night.

“I have been doing disaster responses for 30 years and I think it’s the scariest night that I’ve had. It was horrific.

“We’re on the third floor of one of the safest buildings in Nuku’alofa and the building was shaking and getting pounded by debris from missing roofs.”

At present, Gita is showing no signs of slowing down as the cyclone makes its way towards Fiji and the Ono-i-Lau group of islands.

Smarttraveller has released a statement warning tourists about the cyclone on the government site.

“A category 4 tropical cyclone is expected to reach Tonga on Monday 12 February.  Very destructive winds as high as 120 kilometres per hour are expected.

“Staff at the Australian High Commission in Nuku’alofa have been instructed to stay indoors, and the High Commission will be closed on Monday 12 February.

“Monitor local media, including local radio broadcasts, for updates. Follow instructions of local authorities. The level of our advice has not changed. Exercise normal safety precautions in Tonga.

gita

“Someone’s roof is in my front garden … some of the old landmark buildings that are 100 years old have been severely damaged by debris,” Kenna added.

About 800 families have been evacuated and are staying in a community shelter.

Check out footage of the aftermath here:

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