State of emergency declared as Cyclone Gita bears down on Tonga

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Touliki Naval Base. Photo/Kaniva Tonga

The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency.

Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, said this morning the state of emergency, which came into effect at 10am,  had been declared because of the destructive winds and high seas caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita.

“It is necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage, and damage to the environment,” Hon. Semisi said.

Gita is expected to hit Tonga tonight with winds of up to 200kph.

It is expected to be upgraded to Category Five, the highest possible.

The Tongan Meteorological Service said at 10am this morning the cyclone was located 350KM southeast of Lifuka.

People have been urged to move away from low-lying areas, where flooding and storm surges likely

Heavy sea swells are expected around  Tongatapu, ‘Eua and Ha’apai.

Cyclone Gita has already caused major flooding in Samoa and American Samoa, where there are fears about the spread of dengue.

The storm centre is expected to bring heavy rain to southern Fiji tomorrow.

Tonga has been struck by four category Five cyclones in the past 20 years.

They were Ron (1998), Heta (2003), Ian (2014) and Winston (2016). Winston was the most intense tropical cyclone recorded in the southern hemisphere so far.

The main points

  • The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency.
  • Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, said this morning the state of emergenc, which came into effect at 10am, had been declared because of the destructive winds and high seas caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita.
  • Gita is expected to hit Tonga tonight with winds of up to 200kph.
  • It is expected to be upgraded to Category Five, the highest possible.

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