Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk
Tonga has declared a state of emergency today in preparation for severe Tropical Cyclone Gita as it threatens to hit the southern part of the kingdom with a potential category 5 force tonight, reports Matangi Tonga.
Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika announced the state of emergency at 10am, saying this was due to the destructive force winds and expected sea level rise brought by Gita.
The tropical cyclone, which has already caused widespread destruction in Samoa and American Samoa, is expected to hit Tonga about 7pm.
The state of emergency is to help prevent or minimise loss of lives, injury, damage to property and the environment, Matangi Tonga reported.
The Fiji Times reported that Cyclone Gita was also threatening the republic tonight with the Fiji Meteorological Service issuing a tropical cyclone alert for Ono-i-Lau, Vatoa, Fulaga and nearby small islands.
Earlier, Kaniva Tonga reported that Tonga’s Minister of Police Māteni Tapueluelu said police had forced a hardware supplier to close down yesterday for breaching the country’s Sunday laws.
The minister said Pacific Timber and Hardware “opened without permission this morning [Sunday] and we had it closed down.”
His response came after Kaniva News reported yesterday two hardware suppliers opened temporarily for the public with Cyclone Gita approaching but they had no permits to do so.