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Pacific News Briefs

One of many homes destroyed by Cyclone Gita in Tonga  [Photo: Ke Leka / RNZI]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Tonga's disaster authorities say good progress is being made getting emergency shelter out to the remote villages lashed by Cyclone Gita.

Over 1000 homes were damaged or destroyed when the category 4 cyclone hit Tonga's main island of Tongatapu four days ago.

Graham Kenna of the National Emergency Management Office said the Tongan armed forces had done a fantastic job clearing roads.

He said people in the community were also clearing up rubbish and debris as quickly as possible.

"This morning, despite heavy rain there's been ongoing fast response distributions of emergency shelter to the villages on the eastern side of Tongatapu and the western side. And also the Tonga Red Cross is doing shelter distributions within the capital. Its going very smoothly and very quickly. We hope to have most of it finished by lunch time tomorrow."

Mr Kenna said there had been some welcome rain to fill tanks.

He said it could take up to a month to reconnect electricity to all areas.

(Source: RNZI)


Fiji's National Disaster Office says two government vessels are on standby ready to take vital water and food supplies to cyclone survivors in Fiji's southern Lau group.

Initial reports showed 26 homes were partially damaged and 10 had been destroyed on the islands of Ono-i-Lau and Vatoa.

Almost 300 evacuees were in five evacuation centres on the islands.

The Australian Defence Force completed an aerial survey yesterday and data from that is being used for the response.

The office's director Anare Leweniqila said the most immediate needs are food and water and his team are now working out how much is needed.

"So that is what the assessment teams will determine when they visit the islands. They will go by government vessels, we have two ready on standby, once we finalise the plans and everything then they will be departing."

Mr Leweniqila said no casualties or injuries had been reported so far and he's commended people's preparedness.

He said they had put into action the lessons learnt from past disasters like Cyclone Winston which hit Fiji's main islands almost exactly two years ago.

(Source: RNZI)


More than 12 tons of aid and disaster relief supplies from New Zealand will touch down on a Defence Force Hercules plane in Tonga this week.

The New Zealand Defence Force said agriculture tool kits, family hygiene kits, collapsible water containers, tarpaulins, generators and chainsaw packs were all on board.

Air Commodore Kevin McEvoy said he hoped the supplies would provide basic power, water and sanitation for people.

He said there was also equipment to clear fallen trees.

Most of Tonga remained without power and running water in the wake of Gita.

Derek Leonard owns and runs a coffee plantation in Veitongo - a small rural village in the middle of Tongatapu.

He said some small local shops had been demolished and many houses around him had lost roofs.

He said he was also dealing with the devastation of his home and property.

"My drying shed is pretty much wrecked and a a lot of plants - whole lot of my crops, all of my shelter belt and half the trees are just demolished."

Mr Leonard said three days on, he still didn't have power or running water and has been non-stop cleaning.

(Source: RNZI)


The Samoa Prisons and Correction Services has declined to comment on an investigation by the Police regarding drugs being smuggled into the prison. 

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Ulugia Niuia Aumua said they would rather focus on maintaining the security of the Prison at Tafa’igata. 

Earlier this week, Police Superintendent and Media Spokesperson, Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, confirmed that investigations over claims that drugs, mainly marijuana, are being sold inside the Tafa’igata Prison are underway. 

The investigation follows a failed plot by prisoners to stage a mass prison break while the nation was preparing for Tropical Cyclone Gita on Friday.

The plan was apparently concocted by the senior hierarchy among the prisoner population, the Samoa Observer was told.

Police were tipped off and 90 officers turned up at the Prison.

“During the raid, marijuana joints and a stash of cash were discovered,” Auapa’au said. “The Police are now investigating the discovery.” 

(Source: Samoa Observer)


Police in Tonga are dealing with the alleged murder of a young woman in the wake of Cyclone Gita.

Matangi Tonga reports an 18-year-old man has been charged with the murder of an 18-year-old woman.

It's alleged he assaulted her with a machete on a road in Nuku'alofa the day after Cyclone Gita hit the capital.

The website reports police said the accused and deceased were in a relationship and had one child together.

The accused was allegedly intoxicated when he saw the victim walking with other people after swimming at a public pool on Vuna Road at Ma'ufanga.

A police spokesperson said the woman died on the spot.

An investigation is underway into the circumstances but it is alleged that jealousy might have been involved.

(Source: RNZI)