Sunday, January 12, 2014

One dead, widespread destruction in Tonga cyclone

Space Daily via AFP: At least one person was killed when powerful Cyclone Ian ploughed into Tonga's northern Ha'apai islands, causing extensive damage and destroying houses, reports said Sunday. The full extent of the destruction began to emerge when communications were partially restored a day after the South Pacific kingdom's first category five cyclone struck early Saturday morning.

Initial reports on Saturday said the cyclone had left minor damage. Ian was downgraded to a category four cyclone late Saturday morning, but increased in intensity later in the day and was restored to the most severe rating of category five.

By Sunday there were reports of houses destroyed and trees flattened across the island chain, which is home to about 8,000 people and is popular with tourists.
The head of the Tonga Red Cross, Sione Taumoefolau, said he had been informed of one death in Ha'apai but did not have further details.

He said staff in the region told him by satellite phone the main island of Lifuka was devastated....

US Navy aerial photo of one port in Tonga, pre-storm

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