Cyclone destroys Parliament House, homes on Tonga, Fiji next

This image made from a video, shows parliament house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Tonga began cleaning up Tuesday after a cyclone hit overnight, while some people in the nearby Pacific nation of Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them. (TVNZ via AP)
This Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, photo shows electric and telephone wires downed by trees from Friday's Tropical Storm Gita in American Samoa. President Donald Trump late Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, approved a disaster declaration for the U.S. territory in the South Pacific. (AP Photo/Fili Sagapolutele)
In this image made from a video, people stand near a house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Tonga began cleaning up Tuesday after a cyclone hit overnight, while some people in the nearby Pacific nation of Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them. (TVNZ via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The Pacific nation of Tonga began cleaning up damage Tuesday from a cyclone that destroyed its Parliament House, as well as homes and churches, and was intensifying as it headed toward nearby Fiji.

Cyclone Gita caused power outages after tearing through the island nation just south of the capital, Nuku'alofa, with winds exceeding 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) at landfall. Some 5,000 people stayed in evacuation centers overnight, according to officials, and an emergency was declared. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths.

The cyclone was intensifying and was forecast to hit some southern Fiji islands Tuesday night, though it's likely to miss Fiji's major population centers, including the capital, Suva.

In Tonga, publisher Pesi Fonua said fallen trees were littering the landscape and their absence was opening up new vistas. He said many homes had lost their roofs or were otherwise badly damaged. Many people had endured a terrifying night and were glad to be alive, he added.

"Most of them haven't experienced anything like this before," he said. "It was a real shock for them."

Tongan noble lawmaker Lord Fusitu'a told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. it was a great disappointment the Parliament building had been knocked down.

"Successive legislatures over the years have suggested building a new Parliament House, and I guess that'll be a necessity now," he said.

About 2,500 people living on two of Fiji's islands were at risk, the nation's National Disaster Management Office told Radio New Zealand. Director Anare Leweniqila said emergency supplies of food and water were being gathered and urged elderly and disabled people to begin moving into evacuation centers.

The storm has strengthened since hitting Samoa and American Samoa last week, where it caused damage to buildings, widespread power outages and flooding.

President Donald Trump on Sunday declared an emergency in American Samoa, a U.S. territory. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to help the 50,000 residents recover.

Chris Brandolino, a scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said flooding and coastal inundation would likely cause as many problems in Tonga as the damage from the winds.

Both Australia and New Zealand are sending humanitarian supplies to Tonga, including emergency shelters, cooking equipment and hygiene kits.

People also read these

Israeli prime minister meets Australian...

Feb 24, 2017

Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten says he raised his Labor Party's concerns about Israel's...

Study: Stopping global warming only way to save...

Mar 16, 2017

A study of Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows that reducing pollution and curbing overfishing...

Lewis Hamilton takes pole in record pace at F1...

Mar 25, 2017

Something that surprised Lewis Hamilton after he posted the fastest lap ever at the Albert Park...

Demonstrators protest Afghan president's...

Apr 3, 2017

Hundreds of protesters have demonstrated against the Afghan president's visit to Australia, calling...

Australian leader vague on fate of asylum seekers

Apr 8, 2017

The future of hundreds of asylum seekers at an Australian-run detention center in Papua New Guinea...

Sign up now!

Three Sixty Press is your general news coverage keeping you up-to-date with the vast news in the world.

Contact us: sales[at]threesixtypress.com