April 22, 2018

Cat 4 TC Gita unsafe for Tonga

12 February 2018, 09:10 | Joan Schultz

Fiji ready to deal with tropical cyclone Gita

Cyclone Gita Tears Through Pacific Island, Flattening Parliament, Now Heads to Fiji

A tropical cyclone alert is in force for the Southern half of Viti Levu which includes Suva, Nausori, Navua, Sigatoka, Nadi and Lautoka, the Central Lau Group and Lomaiviti Group.

"We are urging people to seek refuge from this severe cyclone that could be the most powerful in the country's history", said police commissioner Stephen Caldwell.

Oxfam is on standby to respond to Cyclone Gita, as latest forecasts predict the storm could intensify up to a category 5 cyclone before affecting Tonga later tonight.

Gita is now taking aim on Tonga where it's forecast to be equivalent to the strength of a Category 3 hurricane when it passes through the archipelago Monday night-Tuesday, local time (Tonga is 18 hours ahead of U.S. EST).

"People are going battening down the hatches and this kind of preparedness works, it saves lives".

Philip Duncan, chief forecaster at New Zealand's Weather Watch service, said current modelling showed it was lining up to hit Tongatapu directly.

The forecast trajectory of cyclone Gita
The forecast trajectory of cyclone Gita

Oxfam's director of programmes in Tonga, Jane Foster, said the organisation had a long-established presence in Tonga and Samoa and therefore have solid pre-positioned emergency supplied already in-country ready to be deployed when required.

"That's a very serious situation, the capital is there, there's over 75,000 people", he said.

Duncan said the cyclone could cause major damage even if it remained offshore.

"Everyone should be mindful of what might cause damage within their homes such as large trees that can potentially damage a house".

"Communities on the main island of Tongatapu are low-lying - making them vulnerable to flooding from rain and sea surges, " he said.

"We are looking at major structural damage", he warned. Expected to be upgraded to a category 5 storm, it has been forecasted to hit the Pacific island this evening.

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