16 Feb 2010

Cyclone Rene further weakens as Tonga teams assess damage

9:36 pm on 16 February 2010

Tropical Cyclone Rene is now a category 1 cyclone, and continues to move away to the southwest of Tonga as it weakens, after it caused havoc across much of the country yesterday.

There are no reported injuries or fatalities related to Cyclone Rene

A large number of trees are down in Nukualofa, and there is some minor damage to buildings.

NZAid says it's responding to a Tonga government request to send 12 chainsaws and related-safety equipment.

They are scheduled to arrive in Tonga tonight to assist with clean-up, and further emergency supplies are available.

The full extent of damage on outer islands remains unclear.

Early information suggests no major loss of housing, but crops, root plantations and fruit trees have sustained considerable damage.

Beach erosion and coastal flooding has occurred in some areas.

Power generally remains disconnected on Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai Groups as power lines are on the ground.