Cyclone Alert

Cyclone Gita: Tonga’s Parliament building destroyed as country is hit by worst storm in 60 years

Around 5,000 people have been staying at evacuation centres since Monday night.

The 100-year-old Parliament building in Tonga – a kingdom of 170 islands in the South Pacific region of Oceania – was destroyed on Tuesday after a storm hit the country. Tropical Cyclone Gita, measured as a Category 4 Storm, is said to be the most powerful storm to hit the island nation in the last 60 years.

Power supply was hit in Tonga and roofs of many houses were torn off in the high winds. The storm that made landfall in Tonga on Monday night also damaged several churches. More than 5,000 people are staying at evacuation centers and a state of emergency was declared in the island, AP reported.

While New Zealand has donated $545,000 (Rs 3.50 crore) in aid to Tonga, Australia said it will donate $275,000 (approximately Rs 1.76 crore) worth of emergency shelter and hygiene kits to the island nation. A New Zealand Air Force Hercules aircraft will fly to the nation on Tuesday to supply emergency relief supplies, Reuters reported.

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, said the Royal Australian Air Force would fly the aid to Tonga on Tuesday night, ABC Australia reported. “We are sending life-saving equipment, emergency shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits.” Humanitarian relief material, including tarpaulins and water purification tablets, had been released through the Tongan Red Cross, she added.

The New Zealand government said it would take 12 tonnes of aid supplies and a 10-member team to the island nation to assess the damage.

Cyclone Gita to move towards Fiji Islands

Gita is expected to move towards Fiji on Tuesday and intensify into a Category 5 storm. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama asked residents to heed warnings and prepare for the cyclone. However, weather experts have predicted that the storm will bypass heavily-populated areas, Reuters reported.

Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office said around 2,500 people living in two of Fiji’s islands were at risk, and asked the elderly and disabled people to move into evacuation centres, AP reported.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

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Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

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This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.