19th January, 2020 There were no inuries or casualities from Cyclone Tino, the Minister of MEIDECC Hon Poasi Tei confirmed in Nuku’alofa this morning.
Hon Tei, while chairing the National Emergency Management Committee (NEMC) this morning at the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) said the updates from Ha’apai and Vava’u confirmed this.
The two islands suffered the most from category 3 Cyclone Tino, which went through the Kingdom yesterday and this morning.
“That is great news,” Hon Tei said.
“That no one was injured and there was no casuality from the cyclone. We are grateful to all those who worked around the clock to help prepare the people for the cyclone and for them to take action accordingly.”
Cyclone Tino was earlier predicted to hit Tongatapu yesterday but changed direction as it neared the Tongan waters, instead veering off closer to Ha’apai.
That also saw winds affecting parts of Vava’u.
Hon Tei said initial reports pointed to damage to parts of infrastructures like roads, wharf and power poles on parts of Ha’apai and Vava’u.
The agriculture sector faces the most damage again, as a result of the cyclone.
In Ha’apai coastal areas were inundated with seawater after tide surges were recorded in some of the areas.
“That is now being looked at by the respective teams including those from Tonga Power Limited and the Ministry of Infrastructure,” Hon Tei said.
Meanwhile, survey teams will be going out tomorrow around Ha’apai and Vava’u to carry out surveys and assess the magnitude of damage.
The Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of MEIDECC, Mr Paula Ma’u said teams from Tongatapu will also be sent to the two islands to assist in the assessment.
“The NEMC will meet again tomorrow to finalise all that before the team goes out,” Mr Ma’u said.
“But it is really heartening to note that there were no injuries or deaths as a result of the cyclone.
“That is most important, people’s lives.”
The Director of Tonga Meteorology, Mr Ofa Fa’anunu said Cyclone Tino has been downgraded to category 2 again and was moving further away from Tonga.
“It is now moving further away and the cyclone warnings for Tonga is now cancelled,” he said.
“Associate winds will be felt for today but things are improving now.”
The Director of NEMO, Mr Mafua Maka said teams have been working throughout the night in Nuku’alofa, Ha’apai and Vava’u.
“The teams continued liaising with each other throughout the night until now and we are getting in all the reports to help us in deciding what needs to be done straight away,” he added.
All first respondents Tonga Police Force, His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Tonga Red Cross, Tonga Fire and the Ministry of Internal Affairs are ready to assist.
Foreign donors are also on standby to assist if needed.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications.