17 Feb 2010

Tonga will know by week's end whether international help is needed after Rene

5:38 pm on 17 February 2010

Tonga's Disaster Management Office says the government should be able to decide by the end of the week what help is needed for two island groups hard hit by Cyclone Rene.

Officials in the island groups of Vava'u and Ha'apai say they have suffered extensive damage to crops and fruit trees which could lead to food shortages.

The deputy director of the disaster management office, Maliu Takai says officials have now been sent to the groups' outlying islands to assess the cyclone damage.

He says once that's completed the government will decide what action to take, and whether it needs further assistance from other countries.

He says efforts are underway to help 34 families whose houses were hit on Tongatapu.

"A humanitarian operation has been initiated here on the main island to provide emergency relief for those families who have been destroyed or seriously damaged by the cyclone."

He says the cyclone did cause coastal surges on the east of Tongatapu, which damaged vegetation.