Tropical Cyclone Gita has caused severe damage in the Pacific. It made landfall in Tonga during the night of Monday 12 February as a destructive category 4 storm, causing severe damage to the capital Nuku'alofa.
Over 4,500 people have been displaced in evacuation centres and almost 2,000 homes damaged, including more than 130 destroyed.
Approximately 50% of the main island, Tongatapu’s, electricity network was compromised, leaving 80% of homes in Tonga without power.
The cyclone also hit Samoa on Saturday 10 February as a category 2 storm. Both governments declared a state of emergency.
Our thoughts are with the people of Tonga and Samoa. Australian officials are in contact with the Government of Tonga and the Government of Samoa to provide support in the aftermath of the cyclone.
Australia's humanitarian assistance
Australia is providing up to $3.5 million in humanitarian assistance to support the response to the crisis in Tonga.
Our funding is supporting:
- the provision of life-saving supplies including emergency shelter, kitchen and hygiene kits to assist over 2,000 people in need
- the work of the Tongan Government, Red Cross Movement, the Tongan Women and Children’s Crisis Centre and Australian NGOs as they deliver urgent help to affected communities, such as shelter and protection services for women and children
- an Australian medical expert who participated in a joint assessment of medical needs with officials from New Zealand and the World Health Organisation
- four Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) personnel, who deployed to Tonga on 17 February to join a New Zealand-led assessment mission to conduct rapid assessments of the safety of public buildings
- a team of ten electrical line technicians who deployed on 21 February to assist Tonga Power Limited to restore electricity supply. The team is drawn from Australian energy companies NJ Construction, Essential Energy, TransGrid and Evoenergy and will work for an initial period of two weeks with a further group of ten technicians to follow for an additional two weeks. The team will work with counterparts from New Zealand to restore power to homes, reinstate health and education services, and enable businesses to resume operations
- five large electricity generators, each of which will provide immediate power connections for up to 1000 households.
Australia’s relief supplies have been delivered by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from Australia’s humanitarian supplies warehouse in Brisbane on seven ADF C-17 Globemaster flights
The ADF flights have also transported supplies on behalf of humanitarian partners, including the UN Population Fund and Care Australia, as well as drones that will conduct aerial assessments on behalf of the World Bank.
Australia deployed Australian crisis specialists who worked alongside the Government of Tonga and International partners to coordinate relief and recovery efforts.
In Samoa, Australia will provide $155,000 to support debris clearance, aerial surveillance and food assistance for those who have been displaced. Australia will also provide a structural engineer to assist with damage assessments.
Travel advice and consular assistance
We now advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Tonga. A severe tropical cyclone hit Tonga on Monday 12 February. The cyclone caused extensive damage to buildings and other infrastructure. The Tongan government has declared a state of emergency. If you have concerns for family and friends in Tonga, try to contact them directly. Monitor local media, including local radio broadcasts, for updates. Follow instructions of local authorities.
If you have concerns for the welfare of family and friends in Tonga, Samoa or New Caledonia, try to contact them directly. If you are unable to contact Australian friends and family and are worried whether they are safe, you can call our 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1 300 555 135, or +61 2 6261 3305 (if calling from overseas).
For travel advice updates, follow @Smartraveller on Twitter.
If you would like to contribute to Australia’s response to Cyclone Gita please consider donating to an agency working with affected communities. Often the most effective ways to support the relief effort in countries affected by disasters is by providing cash donations through organisations responding to the crisis.
Humanitarian agencies with appeals in response to Cyclone Gita:
- Australian Red Cross
- Act for Peace Australia
- CARE Australia
- Caritas Australia
- Uniting World Australia