World

NASA eyes powerful Tropical Cyclone Gita in the South Pacific

NASA eyes powerful Tropical Cyclone Gita in the South Pacific

Digicel Regional CEO Pacific, Colin Stone, said "Our thoughts are with the people of Tonga and we are deeply saddened by and concerned about the destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita that hit Tonga last night".

The water supply is expected to be fully functional by this evening says Tonga Water Board (TWB) Acting CEO, Kolopeaua Tonga, after Cyclone Gita destroyed the water pump shed located at Mata-ki-'Eua on Togatapu.

Mr Kenna estimated around 40 percent of houses in the capital had suffered some damage, many with roofs blown off.

There were no confirmed reports of deaths from the Category 4 storm that brought winds of around 200 kilometres per hour, but there were a lot of injured people, some seriously, said Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga's National Emergency Management Office.

Storm and gale warnings remain in force for the rest of Southern Lau Group, Matuku, Totoya, Moala, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands, Lakeba and Nayau.

"We got teams going out today (yesterday) to all the affected areas to assess the damage, the needs and see whether we have the capacity to respond".

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Power cuts, road closures, flooding and wind damage are possible in New Zealand next week. Its more than 124 miles per hour (200km/h) winds were the strongest to wreak havoc on Tonga's main islands since modern records began 60 years ago.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument that flies aboard NASA's Terra satellite saw powerful Tropical Cyclone Gita in the South Pacific Ocean on February 12 at 5:20 p.m. EST (22:20 UTC).

Gita is expected to intensify into a category five storm - the highest level - on Tuesday as it moves towards Fiji.

"Successive legislatures over the years have suggested building a new parliament house and I guess that'll be a necessity now". The storm also knocked out power and water service.

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.


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