Worst cyclone to hit Tonga in 60 years

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Tonga felt the full effect of one of its worst cyclones leaving behind nothing but debris. However, emergency services say locals were well prepared. 

International and National Disaster Management Officer for Red Cross, Andrew McKie, says locals braced themselves before the cyclone hit.

He says, "people sheltered in the Mormon churches which are very strong buildings and there was a lot of warning that the cyclone was on the way."

Families comforted each other, while 230km/h winds tore rooves. About 5,700 people sought shelter in evacuation centers overnight. Up to 75 per cent of houses in Nukuʻalofa are now flooded or uninhabitable.

"Once they start running out of relief supplies we have our warehouse in Auckland and we will be able to resupply them cause its cyclone season," says McKie

"And there's always a chance of another cyclone. And the sooner we can restore them the better." 

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced a $750,000 aide fund and the New Zealand Government will deploy a Defence aircraft into Tonga carrying emergency relief supplies.

The storm is building as it heads over to Fiji where meteorologists are predicting winds up to 275km/h