Worst storm in 60 years ravages Tonga

Large parts of Tonga have been left without power after Tropical Cyclone Gita smashed into the Pacific island nation,...

Posted: Feb 13, 2018 12:56 PM
Updated: Feb 13, 2018 12:56 PM

Large parts of Tonga have been left without power after Tropical Cyclone Gita smashed into the Pacific island nation, flattening buildings, downing electrical lines and causing widespread flooding.

The storm, which at its peak brought winds of up to 230 kilometers per hour (kph) with gusts upwards of 280 kph, first made landfall around 8 p.m. Monday, reaching the main island of Tongatapu between 11 p.m and 2 a.m. local time.

Images posted to social media show extensive property damage throughout the capital Nuku'alofa, including to the country's Parliament House.

According to the British Met office, Gita is the worst cyclone to pass close to Tonga's main islands in 60 years. The storm was far stronger than forecasters predicted, despite not reaching reaching category five status.

Reports of injuries remain unclear, due to the difficulty in accessing parts of the archipelago. An estimated 110,000 people live in Tonga, with the majority based on the main island of Tongatapu.

According to Tonga Police spokesperson Sia Adams, as of Tuesday morning, emergency services in Tongatapu were dealing with three confirmed major injuries and 30 minor injuries. One 72-year-old man died of a heart attack, though it was unclear if it related to the storm.

Adams said efforts were now underway to restore power throughout Tongatapu, which remained in darkness, with the city's hospital being the "first priority."

Emergency response teams made up of combined units from the country's police, armed forces and the national emergency management office were dispatched Tuesday morning to help clear roads and rescue those left stranded.

An estimated 5,700 people had sought shelter in evacuation centers overnight, with those numbers expected to increase substantially into the coming days, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters told New Zealand TV station TVNZ.

On Tuesday, the New Zealand government dispatched 12 tonnes of aid supplies and a 10-member team to Tonga to assess the damage wrought by the storm.

In a press statement, Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy, the Acting Commander of Joint Forces New Zealand, said the the military was working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to get "aid supplies to Tonga as soon as possible and stand ready to provide further assistance as required."

Aid supplies included 500 family hygiene kits, 200 shelter tool kits, 2,300 10-litre collapsible water containers and 1000 tarpaulins.

An Orion aircraft had also been dispatched to conduct an aerial survey of the islands.

"The aerial survey will help assess the scale of the damage wrought by the cyclone and help Tongan authorities determine the next steps in their emergency response," said McEvoy.

He said the survey would focus on Tongatapu and the neighboring island of Eua, and help Tongan authorities "identify worst-hit areas and mobilize resources where they are most needed."

The storm is currently 590 kilometers (367 miles) south east of Suva, Fiji. The storm is moving to the west at 28 kph and is forecast to continue, before turning southwest and diminishing in strength.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 28°
Robinson
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 26°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
40° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 33°
Paris
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 24°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 26°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 28°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 28°
Snow flurries this afternoon!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

New computer repair shop opens in Terre Haute

Image

Terre Haute City Council tables rehab rezoning request in Farringtons Grove

Image

All You Need to Know for Friday

Image

Waiting to die: Corey Johnson

Image

Friday: Snow showers, much colder and windy. High: 36

Image

Vigo County Swim meet

Image

Rose Women vs Franklin

Image

Rose Hulman Men vs Franklin

Image

Loogootee Vin Rivet

Image

Barr-Reeve and Loogootee preview

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1052682

Reported Deaths: 19724
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4266588889
DuPage676511129
Will57104856
Lake52264874
Kane45073662
Winnebago25854404
Madison23664449
St. Clair21597410
McHenry21132238
Champaign1514891
Peoria14655231
Sangamon14227232
McLean12931152
Rock Island11688301
Tazewell11687238
Kankakee11315175
Kendall945676
LaSalle9212247
Macon8639178
DeKalb728189
Vermilion7265107
Adams7220108
Williamson6056113
Boone547077
Whiteside5172172
Clinton491083
Coles464478
Ogle453570
Knox4507139
Grundy426154
Effingham425867
Jackson406767
Henry395875
Marion3896111
Franklin376266
Macoupin373992
Randolph364464
Livingston352466
Monroe349567
Stephenson346774
Jefferson3329100
Morgan320388
Woodford309464
Logan302856
Lee299672
Bureau296682
Montgomery294338
Christian292371
Fayette286453
Perry259160
Iroquois254554
Fulton251248
Jersey215852
Lawrence213829
McDonough210550
Saline198552
Douglas198233
Union194632
Shelby194334
Crawford172734
Cass172231
Bond171523
Warren157243
Pike152045
Richland150343
Wayne148043
Jo Daviess146724
Hancock145532
Clark143426
Washington142325
Edgar142050
Carroll141532
Ford135849
Moultrie134528
White129929
Clay129838
Greene124242
Johnson120015
Mercer115728
Wabash115714
Piatt115215
Mason115040
De Witt111226
Cumberland105927
Jasper101515
Massac99930
Menard84810
Hamilton70515
Marshall64413
Schuyler60515
Brown59811
Pulaski5953
Stark49020
Edwards4568
Henderson43916
Calhoun4304
Gallatin3784
Alexander3767
Scott3661
Putnam3451
Hardin2988
Pope2372
Unassigned1050
Out of IL340

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372