- Flickr/Sarah Kelemen Garber
- Tonga is cleaning up after a category 4 cyclone tore through the island nation late Monday.
- Roofs were torn off buildings and Parliament was flattened.
- The full extent of damage is still being assessed.
- The cyclone was heading towards Fiji’s southern islands on Tuesday.
Tonga is cleaning up after a category 4 cyclone tore through the archipelago late Monday.
Cyclone Gita had winds of up to 125 miles (200 kilometers) per hour and flattened the nation’s parliament, reported Reuters.
Roofs were torn off buildings and floods and downed power lines were observed.
“The full extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is still being assessed but there is an immediate need for assistance on the ground,” New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said in a statement.
Peters added that about 5,700 people sought shelter in evacuation centers on Monday night, and the number will likely increase on Tuesday.
Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state comprised of 169 islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Gita could be the strongest cyclone to ever hit the country.
There were no reports of deaths, but several people were injured, Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office, told Reuters.
— Merana Kitione (@merana_kitione) February 12, 2018
Officials said up to 40 percent of homes on the main island were damaged, the ABC reported.
Gita hit Samoa and American Samoa over the weekend, flooding the Samoan capital, Apia.
The cyclone was heading towards Fiji’s southern islands on Tuesday, and some forecasts warn it could intensify into a Category 5 storm.
Last year’s Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, devastated Puerto Rico before making its way through the Carribean. The official death toll for Mariawas listed at 64 in December, however reports say the number could be as high as 1,052.