14 Jan 2003

Tonga's main island in the path of cyclone Ami

4:46 pm on 14 January 2003

Tonga is now on cyclone alert and people are being warned to take precautions with Cyclone Ami due to hit the country later today.

The Cyclone is expected to impact on Tofua, the Ha'apai group and the main island of Tongatapu.

At last report Ami was bringing average winds of 140 kilometres an hour at its centre with gusts to 190 kilometres.

Male'u Takai of the National Disaster Office says if the storm stays on its present track it could pass down the middle of Tongatapu.

He says if that happens the news would not be good.

Mr Takai says they have issued public warnings for people to take all the necessary precautions and to put their emergency plans in place.

"we are also activating the Central Control Group, which is the body that will supervise the operation immediately before, during and after the emergency"