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Thursday 7 January 2016 | Published in Regional


NUKU‘ALOFA – The Tongan government says one of the reasons it declared a state of emergency for Cyclone Ula was so people could work on Sunday in order to assist the islands of Vava‘u if necessary.

Ula swept to the north of Vava’u causing minimal damage, although a state of emergency was declared by the prime minister beforehand.

Paula Ma’u from the National Emergency Committee says there has been confusion over why the declaration was made.

Ma’u says the government was closed because of the Christmas holidays and people also needed to be prepared to work on Sunday – something that is illegal for most people in Tonga.

He says the cyclone forecast meant Sunday was always going to be an important day to assist the northern islands.

“We couldn’t do it on Saturday because of strong winds and rough seas – not until Sunday afternoon. But because we have a Sunday law, that’s why we decided to recommend to the prime minister to declare a state of emergency in order for us, the workers, to prepare for deployment on Sunday.”

The state of emergency was eventually lifted on Tuesday morning. - RNZI