Tonga braces for Cyclone Gita

Samoa declares state of disaster over tropical cyclone

Oxfam is on standby to respond to Cyclone Gita, as latest forecasts predict the storm could intensify up to a category 5 cyclone before affecting Tonga later tonight.

American Samoa is located about 2,550 miles southwest of Hawaii.

"If you're just a little bit away from the centre, that's where the strongest winds are", Malivuk said.

Several main roads were blocked, he said, and power was out where he was in Apia. Tongatapu would be "pretty much exposed to the full brunt of the cyclone".

"Yeah, it is a big mess". There would be heavy rain with thunderstorms, high seas, very damaging heavy swells, and flooding, including sea flooding for low-lying coastal areas.

Autagavaia said that he was yet to hear reports from the south coast and the neighbouring island of Savai'i, which appeared to have borne the brunt.

The Tongan Community in New Zealand is watching on with anxiety.

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Gita was starting to form an eye.

In American Samoa, the governor, Lolo Matalasi Maliga, said there was extensive damage to homes and utilities.

US President Donald Trump declared emergency status for American Samoa, authorising the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

As Cyclone Gita continued its path across Polynesia on Saturday morning, it appeared few would be spared.

The storm is now a Category 4, and forecasters expect it could grow to a Category 5 by the time it strikes Tonga Monday night.

The Pacific nation of Tonga braced for destructive winds and potential flash flooding from Tropical Cyclone Gita on Monday after the powerful storm pummelled Samoa over the weekend.

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