Airlines resume Tonga flights in wake of cyclone Gita

Fuofua vakapuna uta pāsese ke tū'uta 'i Tonga hili 'a hono tāpuni 'o e mala'e vakapuna fakavaha'apule'anga Fua'amotu koe'uhī ko e saikolone ko Gita. Kuo mavahe atu ai 'a e Vakapuna 'Ea Nu'u Sila NZ 0270 he ho'atā 'o e 'aho ni mei Nu'u Sila ke tau ki Tonga he 4.55ef. Taimi tatau kuo fakahā mai kuo fakataha 'a e Haikomisiona Nu'u Sila 'i Tonga mo e 'Eiki Palēmia 'Akilisi Pōhiva ke fokotu'utu'u mo fakamahino 'a e ngaahi tokoni 'a Nu'u Silaki he fonua.

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Malia Hāmani, her family and staff at Auckland International Airport. Photo/Kalino Lātū

Planes began landing again this afternoon at the Fua’amotu International airport after it closed for about two days stranding hundreds of travelers trying to get home from overseas.

Air New Zealand Flight NZ270 and Singapore Airlines Flight SQ4328 which was operated by Air New Zealand (NZ270) departed Auckland International airport this afternoon for Tonga at 1.40pm.

It is expected to arrive in the kingdom at 4.55pm.

The flight was the first  to arrive in Tonga from New Zealand after Tropical Cyclone Gita with winds of 230km/h flattened Tonga’s Parliament House, damaged Cabinet house and causing significant destruction and injuries across the kingdom.

Malia Hāmani, her family and staff of her Toa Pacific organisation were among those in line at a check in queue at the Auckland International airport this afternoon.

They were travelling to Tonga as part of their works – The prevention of Elder Abuse and Neglect for Pacific People in Auckland.

Hāmani who is based in Auckland said she was concerned after hearing from her family in Tonga after the cyclone and she was happy to go there to meet them and see if they could help with the situation.

“We planned to go there and visit the elderly as that is what we are doing here in New Zealand,” Hāmani told Kaniva News.

She said her family in Tonga were lucky beceause no one was injured or had any damage to their homes.

Hāmani said she was told her family’s neigbours lost their houses after the category 4 tropical cyclone.

Cyclone Gita, the strongest tropical storm to hit Tonga in more than six decades, destroyed approximately tens of millions of pa’anga’ worth of crops, buildings and businesses.

Tongan authorities were expected to release the results of an assessment conducted in Tongatapu since yesterday in an effort to assess the extent of the destruction.

The Minister of Disaster Management, Hon. Poasi Tei, said teams of government assessors had been dispatched to villages and towns to report on damage caused by the category four cyclone.

The NZ P3 Orion flight has completed a surveillance mission in Tonga yesterday and photos taken during the survey had been given to the Tongan Govt to help with assessment and priority needs.

It is understood the New Zealand High Commissioner in Tonga met with Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva today to assist assessing needs and developing response options to help Tonga.

The kingdom’s state of Emergency remains in place.

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