28 Jan 2003

Cyclone hits Tonga but only minor damage reported at this stage

11:32 am on 28 January 2003

Cyclone Cilla has hit Tonga's Ha'apai group of islands but only minor damage to buildings and some destruction of crops is reported at this stage.

Male'u Takai, the deputy director of the National Disaster Office, says the defence force on the main Ha'apai island of Lifuka has been in radio contact and there have been no reports of any injuries or deaths.

"Damage to building infrastructure is very minor. Fruit-bearing trees are affected, like breadfruits and coconut trees. The power is now working and that's a good sign to us but communication between Tongatapu and ha'apai is still down."

Mr Takai says there's been no contact with other islands in the Ha'apai group as yet.

Cyclone Cilla is now moving in a south-easterly direction away from Ha'apai.