'Worst storm in over 60 years' destroys Tonga's century-old parliament building

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Forecasting models still predict the storm will track towards New Zealand, with the potential to pass over the country in some form early next week as an ex-tropical cyclone.

On Tonga, acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika declared a state of emergency, urging residents to stay where they were to prevent injury and avoid further damage to property or the environment. The vertical wind shear is offset by a strong poleward outflow channel.

"We know many people will be desperately trying to get in touch with friends and family to make sure they're safe, especially over the coming days".

Officials said up to 40 percent of homes on the main island were damaged, the ABC reported.

"We have lost all our food, our plantation". The winds were stronger than predicted, at 144 miles per hour, and ripped the roof off of the Tonga meteorological office, taking the national broadcaster off the air.

"We have only received reports of three completely destroyed houses and we are just working around trying to ascertain the nature of these structures".

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He added, "It should be able to focus on continuing President Trump's historic accomplishments for the American People". But several aides, including Conway, delivered ringing support for Hicks and said that the president still valued her.

"It's fair to say we see ourselves as having a huge responsibility here - New Zealand has, in these situations in the past".

Mr Leweniqila said it was unclear if the homes were Fijian bures, made of corrugated iron or wood.

Hundreds of military personnel were clearing roads and disaster teams were already assessing the damage.

"They've been through cyclones before, but this is the biggest cyclone this island has had for at least 60 odd years". It is now moving away slowly from the Fiji area and any populated places - but will come very close to Noumea, New Caledonia and southern parts of Vanuatu and severe weather and beach conditions are possible.

Cyclone Gita was relentless in its battering of the island nation, and the Tongan representative has been making sure to check in every day.

Crops in the two most southernmost islands of the Lau group, Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa were badly damaged, a government statement issued this afternoon informs.