15 Feb 2010

Residents of Tonga's capital still preparing for Cyclone Rene

11:39 am on 15 February 2010

Residents in Vava'u and Ha'apai are sheltering from Cyclone Rene this morning as it starts to bear down on outer islands.

The Fiji Meteorological Service says that Cyclone Rene is now south south west of Vavau in Central Tonga and has winds of up to 166 kilometers per hour at its centre

The cyclone is on track to directly affect central and southern Tongan islands of Haapai, Nomuka Nukualofa and Eua.

Our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu says that people are still hammering down their windows, with the Nukualofa's town centre closed:

"You can tell people are putting up the final prepartions, hammering here and there making sure that the windows are nice and tight. Its beginning to get really windy here and its heavily raining."

Phone lines into Tonga's Haapai islands are now off-line due to Cyclone Rene.

Tonga's directory service has advised that customers on some outer islands are unable to be connected at this time due to the cyclone.