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Initial response aid provided

Friday 19 February 2016 | Published in Regional


WELLINGTON – New Zealand is providing US$39,000 as an initial response to help emergency personnel on Tonga’s northern island group of Vava‘u.

Foreign minister Murray McCully said the aid would help the Tonga National Emergency Management Office and pay for a chartered flight to Vava‘u to assess damage and to deliver essential supplies such as tarpaulins, tents and mosquito nets.

The flight will also take additional emergency personnel to Vava‘u.

Mc Cully said New Zealand stands ready to provide further assistance if required.

It’s not yet clear whether Cyclone Winston will hit New Zealand or bypass us.

The strong category four cyclone currently over the northern islands of Tonga and is heading west.

However, New Zealand MetService meteorologist Matt Ford said it looks like Winston will stay near southern Fiji over the next few days. He said after the weekend there are indications it will head further south but after that, it’s a bit hard to pin down.

“It’s likely the cyclone will start tracking south, south-east. But just how close it gets to New Zealand, it’s a bit difficult to say.

Cyclone Winston would cause damage to structures if it were to pass close to a populated area as well as heavy rain and storm surges.

Ford said: “There’s likely to be very heavy rain as well, but the other issues will be the large seas spun up by strong winds.”