Powerful Cyclone Headed to Tonga

Samoa declares state of emergency

Samoa declares state of emergency

Some damage to buildings and wide-spread power outages were reported on American Samoa early Saturday, a day after tropical storm Gita passed near the USA territory in the South Pacific.

Gita was a lesser category 1 cyclone when it passed over Samoa on Saturday, causing widespread flooding and loss of electricity.

Residents in Tonga are bracing themselves for the impending category 4-strength Cyclone Gita.

The Fiji Meteorological Service, which is responsible for warnings in the region, said Gita continued to intensify, and would likely do so for the coming day.

Autagavaia said that there were strong winds through the night, which had uprooted trees and ripped off roofs.

He said that the country had experienced severe downpours for much of the week, and the cyclone had only added to the misery.

"Around 5 O'clock - that is when we started feeling the effects of Gita". "It just implies it's becoming a very intense storm when you have an eye forming".

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The International Date Line runs between Samoa and American Samoa, so the cyclone was at its peak intensity over Apia, Samoa early on Saturday morning and several hours later, battering Pago Pago on American Samoa, on Friday evening. It made landfall as a category 3 storm.

For Tongatapu, 'Eua and Ha'apai, winds were expected to get to 150kmh, with momentary gusts of 185kmh.

In a statement issued today, Mr Sika said pursuant to section 32 of the Emergency Management Act 2007, the Tongan PM was satisfied that an emergency was happening or was about to happen in the kingdom, attributed to the destructive force winds and sea rises caused by TC Gita.

The Metservice also warned of huge coastal swells and flooding of low-lying areas.

News website Matangi Tonga said people had been hampered in their preparation for the storm as strict sabbatical laws prevented Sunday trading for emergency supplies.

The storm is now a Category 4, and forecasters expect it could grow to a Category 5 by the time it strikes Tonga Monday night.

Brown floodwaters gush into house in Apia, Samoa.

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