Tropical Cyclone Gita keeps strength after hammering Tonga

Cyclone Gita batters southern Fiji, upgraded to category five, heading for Vanuatu, New Caledonia

The islands of Tonga in the South Pacific were devastated by Tropical Cyclone Gita, considered to be the worst storm to hit the kingdom in 60 more than years.

According to reports, Gita is the worst cyclone to pass along Tonga's main islands in 60 years because all communications were lost overnight as Gita ripped the roof off the Tonga meteorological office making the entire situation very hard for everyone.

Meanwhile New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said of Cyclone Gita: "Our hercules arrived [in Tonga] last night, and we have had aerial surveillance which we has gone to Tongan authorities".

In this image made from a video, people stand near a house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku'alofa, Tonga Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Forecast tracking by Tropical Storm Risk had the cyclone moving westwards and then heading south and avoiding New Caledonia.

The Category 4 cyclone is not expected to strengthen to Category 5, as weather models earlier predicted.

A hurricane warning remains in force for Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa.

Worldwide and National Disaster Management Officer for Red Cross, Andrew McKie, says locals braced themselves before the cyclone hit.

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"It was a terrifying night", Graham Kenna from Tonga's National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) told the ABC's Pacific Beat program.

The destruction of the cyclone left three people with serious injuries and 30 others with minor injuries in Tongatapu, Tongan Police spokeswoman Sia Adams said.

The damage on Tonga's outer islands has not been fully assessed, as information from there was slow to obtain.

Officials said up to 40 percent of homes on the main island were damaged, the ABC reported.

"As hard as that will be, that's what the Defence Force does in terms of contingency planning".

Kenna said it was the worst situation he had ever been in.

Spark and Vodafone offered free calling and texting to Tonga for customers desperate to communicate with their loved ones.

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