21 Jan 2014

Tonga officially asks for international cyclone aid

2:44 pm on 21 January 2014

The Tongan government says it has today officially requested international help for relief following Cyclone Ian.

The director of the National Emergency Office, Leveni Aho, says it has become clear that the lasting impact of the storm is greater than the capacity, expertise and resources of Tonga.

He says while it has received aid through donor partners on the ground, it has now made an official call for help so that other agencies like the UN can be activated.

Mr Aho says it needs international expertise in food, water, sanitation and shelter.

"Obviously the capacity here is limited and there's some areas that we need to cover that we don't have the local expertise and resources to do that. So that's why we are now seeking international assistance, to fill up those gaps."

Leveni Aho says the Tongan government is still doing everything it can itself to help the people of Ha'apai.