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Cyclone Winston's u-turn back to Tonga and Fiji

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After causing floods and wild winds in Tonga, Cyclone Winston is heading back to the Vava'u islands for a second pass before tracking towards Suva.

Red Cross volunteers are bracing for the second onslaught of Tropical Cyclone Winston, expected to return to the Vava'u group of islands today.

The cyclone's unpredictable path through the South Pacific Ocean saw it pass by Vava'u and Ha'apai on 17 February, tearing the roofs off more than 25 homes, flooding several more, and leaving roads blocked with fallen trees and power lines.

The cyclone moved into open waters northeast of Niue, but has now turned back on itself. It will pass by the Vava'u group of islands as a catregory 4 storm. Vava'u and Ha'apai will experience strong winds, rain and coastal swells before the cyclone heads towards Fiji on Saturday.

The cyclone's first pass through Vava'u caused widespread flooding. Some 60 families are staying in evacuation centres in Vava'u and Ha'apai, with more evacuees anticipated over the weekend.

Tonga Red Cross volunteers have been hard at work clearing debris and conducting damage assessments since Winston first passed through the country. They have also been supporting the Ministry of Health to contain an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Red Cross teams in Tonga and Fiji are now reactivating their disaster preparedness plans. They will conduct rapid damage assessments from the cyclone and have relief supplies on hand for affected families.

Australian Red Cross continues to monitor the cyclone and is ready to assist with skilled aid workers as needed.

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