Pacific nation of Tonga wakes up to Cyclone Gita destruction

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The aftermath of Cyclone Gita in Tonga.

The aftermath of Cyclone Gita in Tonga. (Photo: Elizabeth V Kitè / Facebook)

The people of Tonga are coming to terms with the devastation left by Tropical Cyclone Gita overnight.

Winds of over 233km/h ripped roofs off houses, brought down trees, destroyed a Catholic church, Radio New Zealand reports.

Tonga’s emergency services say they are struggling to get out and assess the damage after Tropical Cyclone Gita left a trail of destruction overnight.

Roads all over Tongatapu are blocked by debris and downed power lines hampering relief efforts.

Video Credit: Lenny Folau

Tonga's National Emergency Management Office says there is no house that has not been damaged by tropical Cyclone Gita.

Unconfirmed reports say two people have been killed.

Photo /  Nanasi Sekona Facebook
Photo / Nanasi Sekona Facebook

Graham Kenna from Tonga's National Emergency Management Office said trees, roofs, power poles and flying debris lay across roads and in gardens.

Armed officers were clearing roads at daybreak so that damage assessments could be carried out, while power and water were still out, he said.

"A lot of the landmark buildings are extremely badly damaged or even damaged, the landmark tree that anyone who's been to Tonga will have seen near the palace has been destroyed, it's quite a bad situation," he told Morning Report.

New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said the northern eyewall of Cyclone Gita - the worst of the winds and thunderstorms in a tropical cyclone - hit Tonga.

The last time a category 5 cyclone hit the Pacific was in February 2016 when Cyclone Winston killed 44 people in Fiji.

Niwa's forecasting principal scientist, Chris Brandolino, told Morning Report the eye of the storm passed about 50 kilometres south of Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa.

Although high winds are damaging, storm surges, mudslides and water-borne diseases can be more devastating, he said.

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