26 Feb 2010

Tonga officials to reassess cyclone damage

5:56 pm on 26 February 2010

Tonga's disaster management office says it's sending officials back to the outer islands to verify the damage caused by Cyclone Rene almost two weeks ago.

The office had said it was likely to present a report to government recommending it seek international help, after assessments suggested the cyclone had destroyed or damaged more than 700 homes.

But the Tonga Red Cross says its assessment, which does not include damage to outside buildings, suggests about 150 houses have been affected.

And the Disaster Management Office's deputy director, Maliu Takai now says a more detailed assessment is needed because their figures are higher than expected.

The Tongan Advisory Council in New Zealand has criticised the speed of the authorities' response to the cyclone.

But Maliu Takai rejects this

"I think they are entitled to their opinion. I feel certain it will have to go through the process that is laid down for this kind of operation. So I will stop at that."

Maliu Takai says the final assessment should be completed by next week.