Tonga welcomes New Zealand $750,000 donation as Gita leaves path of destruction

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Tonga Parliament house has been levelled by cyclone Gita. Photo/courtesy of John Nicholas Pulu, Tangata Pasifika

The Tongan government has welcomed New Zealand’s offer to donate $750,000 and personnel assistance in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The New Zealand Government has a military plane with assistance ready to go once it was safe to land it in Tonga.

Tonga’s Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu has told Kaniva News in Auckland the government of Jacinda Ardern had indicated yesterday before cyclone Gita struck the kingdom last night that it stood by and was prepared.

Tapueluelu said the Tongan government was in the process of fulfilling procedural requirements before it can receive the donation and all assistance.

New Zealand Minister for Pacific People Aupito William Sio said last night while New Zealand was on standby mode ready to provide support to all Pacific countries affected  by Cyclone Gita, “it will not respond unless requested by the affected Pacific government.”

Prime Minister Arden said the New Zealand Government has a military plane and $750,000 ready to help cyclone-battered Tonga, Fairfax media reported.

The New Zealand Government had already pledged $50,000 to help but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told RNZ on Tuesday morning a contingency fund had been signed off that outstrips that, so there was “no hold up” when they knew where to use the funds.

The aftermath

This morning in Tongatapu after cyclone Gita. Photo/Courtesy of John Nicholas Pulu, Tangata Pasifika

Tonga’s main island Tongatapu and its island of ‘Eua were besieged by the category 4 tropical cyclone last night in what has been called the worst storm to hit the country in 60 years, with gusts of up to 278kmh.

Tongatapu and ‘Eua residents woke this morning to what ‘looks like a war zone’ and are assessing the extensive damage left behind by destructive Cyclone Gita, with emergency services fearing there will be ‘more injuries if not deaths’.

New Zealand media said two deaths had been confirmed.

Gita brought  gale-force wind gusts of up to 200km/h, record breaking rainfall of more than 200mm in an hour, and surging tides threatening widespread floods.

Cyclone Gita’s ‘destructive core’ battered the east coast, stripping palm trees bare, destroying businesses, churches, schools and leaving homes in ruins.

Devastating photos show buildings in Hihifo and Hahake areas of Tongatapu with roofs ripped off and homes inundated with water.

The Tonga Parliament house was levelled and school buildings in Apifo’ou college had been ripped off.

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