Cyclone destroys Parliament House, homes on Tonga, Fiji next

In this image made from a video, people stand near a house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Tonga began cleaning up Tuesday after a cyclone hit overnight, while some people in the nearby Pacific nation of Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them. (TVNZ via AP)
This Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, photo shows electric and telephone wires downed by trees from Friday's Tropical Storm Gita in American Samoa. President Donald Trump late Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, approved a disaster declaration for the U.S. territory in the South Pacific. (AP Photo/Fili Sagapolutele)
This image made from a video, shows parliament house damaged by Cyclone Gita in Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. Tonga began cleaning up Tuesday after a cyclone hit overnight, while some people in the nearby Pacific nation of Fiji began preparing for the storm to hit them. (TVNZ via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The Pacific nation of Tonga began cleaning up damage Tuesday from a cyclone that destroyed its Parliament House, as well as homes and churches, and was intensifying as it headed toward nearby Fiji.

Cyclone Gita caused power outages after tearing through the island nation just south of the capital, Nuku'alofa, with winds exceeding 200 kilometers per hour (124 miles per hour) at landfall. Some 5,000 people stayed in evacuation centers overnight, according to officials, and an emergency was declared. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths.

The cyclone was intensifying and was forecast to hit some southern Fiji islands Tuesday night, though it's likely to miss Fiji's major population centers, including the capital, Suva.

In Tonga, publisher Pesi Fonua said fallen trees were littering the landscape and their absence was opening up new vistas. He said many homes had lost their roofs or were otherwise badly damaged. Many people had endured a terrifying night and were glad to be alive, he added.

"Most of them haven't experienced anything like this before," he said. "It was a real shock for them."

Tongan noble lawmaker Lord Fusitu'a told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. it was a great disappointment the Parliament building had been knocked down.

"Successive legislatures over the years have suggested building a new Parliament House, and I guess that'll be a necessity now," he said.

About 2,500 people living on two of Fiji's islands were at risk, the nation's National Disaster Management Office told Radio New Zealand. Director Anare Leweniqila said emergency supplies of food and water were being gathered and urged elderly and disabled people to begin moving into evacuation centers.

The storm has strengthened since hitting Samoa and American Samoa last week, where it caused damage to buildings, widespread power outages and flooding.

President Donald Trump on Sunday declared an emergency in American Samoa, a U.S. territory. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide equipment and resources to help the 50,000 residents recover.

Chris Brandolino, a scientist at New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, said flooding and coastal inundation would likely cause as many problems in Tonga as the damage from the winds.

Both Australia and New Zealand are sending humanitarian supplies to Tonga, including emergency shelters, cooking equipment and hygiene kits.

Must Read

Canadian judge denies bail to alleged Yahoo hacker

Apr 11, 2017

A judge has denied bail to a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails

Ex-Gitmo inmate gets apology, millions from Canada

Jul 7, 2017

A Canadian official says a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who pleaded guilty to killing a U.S....

Canadian polygamous leader found guilty of having...

Jul 25, 2017

A former bishop of an isolated polygamous commune in Canada has been convicted of practicing...

'Veep' creator: I could never reach 'giddy...

Sep 8, 2017

In 'Veep'-creator Armando Iannucci's second feature film, 'The Death of Stalin,' some quite funny...

Uber says will cease operations in Quebec over...

Sep 26, 2017

Uber says it will cease operations in Quebec next month if the province doesn't rescind new rules...

People also read these

Canadian judge denies bail to alleged Yahoo hacker

Apr 11, 2017

A judge has denied bail to a Canadian man accused in a massive hack of Yahoo emails

Canada asylum seekers housed at Montreal's...

Aug 2, 2017

So many asylum seekers are crossing into Canada from the United States that Montreal's Olympic...

Dog's YouTube 'candidacy' is a big hit in...

Sep 13, 2017

One of the candidates in for mayor in St. John's, Newfoundland, has become a celebrity - the one...

Liam Neeson sees parallels between Trump, Nixon...

Sep 27, 2017

Liam Neeson's latest film is a deep dive into the Watergate era, and he says there are clear...

Gord Downie, lead singer of The Tragically Hip,...

Oct 18, 2017

Gord Downie, the revered lead singer and songwriter of iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically...

Sign up now!