Tropical Cyclone Tino caused devastation in Fiji, as it picked up strength to become a Category Three storm on Saturday. It closed in on Tonga after battering Fiji, where two people were missing and more than 3,000 fled to emergency shelters.
The Fiji Meteorological Service said the wind gusts from Tino had increased to 180 kilometres per hour (110 mph) and would likely have its biggest impact in the northern areas of Tonga when it hits overnight.
Emergency relief efforts prevented the loss of life, and provided safety to thousands of displaced people cramped in evacuation centres in Fiji. Life came to halt for the residents of the Pacific Island, as businesses and schools were shut down, whilst flights within the mainland were cancelled.
The Pacific kingdom is still recovering from the devastation of Cyclone Gina two years ago which caused widespread devastation, destroying houses and crops.
Police, meanwhile, continued the search for a father and his daughter who were swept away when they tried to cross a swollen river
“The sea is very high and I’m sure beaches are being washed away in the more exposed places and the outer islands,” Tupoutu’a Tonutonu told AFP from northern Vava’u.
“It’s been bucketing down for about three days, the soil is waterlogged and I’m hearing trees are down in the village.”
In Fiji, the National Disaster Management Office said 3,115 sought emergency shelter at the height of the storm, but most had since returned home with damage not as severe as first feared.
“We know for sure most of them went to the ECs (evacuation centres) to take shelter because of the big rains we were receiving and also because of the warnings,” Uraia Rainima, a senior government official in the northern region, said.
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“We have received information that most of them are moving back to their houses.”
The island of Taveuni, with a population of around 19,000 people, was without power, Rainima said.
Police, meanwhile, continued the search for a father and his daughter who were swept away when they tried to cross a swollen river on Thursday evening, and said there were no other casualties.
This is the second cyclone to hit the Island in the past three weeks, urging the government to draw attention to the catastrophic consequences of climate change and the need for immediate action.
AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk (Rai Mustafa Bhatti)