11 Jan 2014

State of Emergency declared for Tonga's Vava'u and Ha'apai

4:30 pm on 11 January 2014

A state of emergency is in force in Tonga's islands being battered by Tropical Cyclone Ian.

Cyclone Ian, which is a category 4 cyclone, has average winds of more than 190 kilometres an hour close to its centre, with gusts in excess of 260 kilometres an hour.

The system's centre is moving in a south-southeasterly direction between the Vava'u and Ha'apai group of islands.

On its current track, the cyclone is forecast to move away to the east of the main island of Tongatapu.

There have been reports of damage from Vava'u's outer islands.

The director of the national emergency office, Leveni Aho, says the state of emergency means resources will be ready to deploy in areas of need, and authorities have the power to evacuate if needed.