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25 Feb 2018 15:08
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Gita out into open water, heading for NZ

    Cyclone Gita is now heading for New Zealand, as the government gets ready to assist with aid for battered Tonga.

    The ferocious winds of Cyclone Gita is starting to move away from Tonga and its remnants could hit the western side of New Zealand as early as this weekend.

    Severe damage has been caused by the cyclone in the Pacific Island kingdom on Tuesday morning, levelling houses and tearing off roofs as winds got to nearly 280km/h.

    WeatherWatch says waves over 11 metres high were reported at the height of the storm, which reached Category 4.

    "Over the next day or two, there won't be as much news on the storm as it tracks over open waters towards New Caledonia and Norfolk Island," WeatherWatch said.

    Computer models have Gita swinging out into the Tasman Sea and curving back to hit the western side of New Zealand, possibly at the weekend.

    It will likely be downgraded from a cyclone by then and it is unclear, WeatherWatch said, whether it retains storm conditions or just be a weaker area of low pressure.

    "We have fairly high confidence that Gita will influence our weather pattern, for example the nor'east flow and humidity coming in by Sunday or Monday for northern New Zealand."

    Meanwhile, New Zealand is offering an initial relief fund of $750,000 to support Tonga while emergency response teams wait on standby following the destruction.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday morning that they were still waiting on feedback from the Tonga government on the extent of the damage but relief funds and emergency response services were being made available, she said.

    A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade emergency management team was on the ground in Tonga and a Defence Force aircraft was currently being loaded for supplies in preparation for deployment, she said.

    There are believed to be just over 90 New Zealanders in Tonga who were being located by MFAT.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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