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.