Tonga Tropical Cyclone Gita

The following is Situation Report #1 and #2 for Tonga based on early indications in social media. Humanity Road activated its disaster desk in response to Cyclone Gita which heavily impacted Tongatapu in Tonga. Gita made landfall as the equivalent of a category 4 storm. Fiji’s MetService said the category four storm was very close to being upgraded to the highest category, five. source

Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square kilometers (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. It has a population of 107,122 people,[7] of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu. source

Download PDF version of Situation Report

  • Tonga, Tropical Cyclone Gita Sitrep No 1, 13 Feb 2018.pdf
  • Tonga, Tropical Cyclone Gita Sitrep No 2, Feb 14, 2018.pdf

Situation Overview

On 12 February, 2018, the Tonga National Emergency Management Office was activated at 7:00am in preparation for Tropical Cyclone Gita which was a Category 3 storm. It was located near 20.9 South 168.6 West or 670km East-Northeast of Nuku’alofa or 600km East-Northeast of Lifuka. People were advised to have their emergency kits packed and to evacuate if living in flood-prone areas. source At 10:00am on 12 February, the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency for the whole of Tonga. source


On Tongatapu, the category four cyclone brought winds of over 233km/h which ripped roofs off houses, brought down trees, destroyed a Catholic church, and took the Tongan Met Office and the national radio station offline. source

Significant Updates (most recent first)

14 Feb:

  • The Australian Government is providing emergency humanitarian assistance to Tonga. Supplies include emergency shelters and kitchen and hygiene kits for 2,000 people. source
  • The New Zealand Air Force is conducting aerial damage assessments and passing information to Tonga. Aerial views show the port has some damage, but the airport is in fairly good condition. source
  • There is a need for mosquito nets to prevent dengue fever. source


13 Feb:

  • Damage assessments are ongoing, but early estimates show about 40% of homes have been damaged. Power and water are out. source
  • Water, shelter, and food are the main needs. One person has died from a heart attack, 3 have major injuries, and 30 have minor injuries. According to the Red Cross, the level of damage to crops, vegetation, homes, and infrastructure is high. About 3,000 people are in evacuation shelters, but this is expected to double. Roads all over Tongatapu are blocked by debris and downed power lines hampering relief efforts. source
  • People in the eastern districts will have borne the brunt of the cyclone and should be urgently targeted with aid. There are reports that homes, a school and churches have been flattened there. source
  • All airports are closed due to damage. source Tonga Airports Limited (TAL), which operates 6 airports, is closed, and phones are not operational. Their travel centre will reopen on 14 Feb to assist customers. source
  • Digicel Tonga update – currently there is full connectivity in Vava’u and Ha’apai, and they are working to restore all services in Tongatapu is ongoing at pace. source
  • Tonga Power has restored power to Vaiola Hospital and the Tonga Water Board. On 14 Feb, linesmen will continue to focus on restoring the power supply to priority service providers including NEMO, Digicel, TCC, A3Z, PM Office, Palace etc. Power for residential customers will remain off until Thursday or Friday in order to survey the extent of damages. source
  • Tonga’s Parliament House has been destroyed #TCGita Source: FB post by Salote Sisifa. PC: Palu Ertugrul & Kyoshi Karsten Motuapuaka source
  • The office of the Tonga MetService has been structurally damaged by Gita, so forecasting duties have been passed over to Fijian authorities. source
  • Graham Kenna of Tonga’s National Emergency Office told Radio New Zealand a church has been completely destroyed – “There’s a lot of damage in the city … we know that one of the Catholic churches is completely gone and others are damaged,” he said. source
  • “…a Nuku’alofa local of five years, says there is “a fair bit of destruction” on her street. “There’s water absolutely everywhere. One end of the street is blocked by two fallen trees. There’s definitely flooding. I’d put it at 50 centimetres on the street, and at least 30 centimetres in my house. I’m upstairs now with my landlord but my whole house downstairs is now flooded.” source
  • Travel Advisory for New Zealanders heading to Tonga source
  • The New Zealand government has pledged an initial $50,000 to help rescue and relief operations in cyclone-battered Tonga. source A New Zealand Defence Force plane is also ready to fly to Tonga once it is known what is needed in the country. source
  • “A lot of fruits trees are down. One of the Tongan staple food this summer season are Breadfruits. All down.” source

12 Feb:

  • Following the State of Emergency Declaration this morning by the Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Semisi Sika, the Commissioner of Tonga Police, Stephen Caldwell, as a further precaution has ordered a curfew in the Central Business District area of Nuku’alofa starting from 9:00pm tonight until 7:00am tomorrow morning Tuesday 13 February 2018 (Public Order Act, Section 8). The following roads delimits the CBD area, Tupoulahi Road to the east, Mateialona Road to the south, Vaha’akolo Road to the west and Vuna Road to the North. source

National Links

Regional and Local Links

Tonga Online Now online facebook group for Tongans Facebook

Emergency Numbers

Emergency Phone Numbers


  • Contact NEMO on 26 340 or 08006366 for any emergency. source
  • Call 3316204 for maritime emergencies. source
  • Tamate Afi / Fire: 928
  • Falemahaki / Hospital: 933
  • Polisi / Police: 922
  • Uhila / Electricity: 944


Information Helplines


  • Ofisi e Fakatu’utamaki Fakanatula | NEMO (Disaster Management): +676 26 340 / +676 28 242 / +676 28 215. source


Reunification Hotlines and Websites

To be determined.

Maps and Situational Awareness

  • Tonga Weather service is unavailable due to power and damage to facilities Fiji Met service is taking over Tonga weather bulletins as the Tonga met facilities have been damaged hits source
  • Tropical Storm Risk website also has up to date monitoring of the weather system. Source
  • OCHA Humanitarian Team Flash Update 1: Tropical Cyclone Gita 12 February 2018 source

TC Gita Storm Track Map

Interactive Snapchat Map

Hospitals & Special Needs Population

Status of Hospitals

  • 13 Feb: Power has been restored to Vaiola Hospital. source
  • 12 Feb: Video from Nukualofa Hospital source
  • 12 Feb: Vaiola Hospital may be under evacuation source


Hospital Lists

  • Five hospitals total in Tonga: Vaiola Hospital, Vaini District Medical Center, Dr. ‘Ana ‘Akau’ola’s Clinic, The German Clinic, Family Planning Clinic source


Special Needs Populations


To be determined

Shelters and Evacuation Centers

  • 13 Feb: About 1000 families heeded the warnings and took shelter in evacuation centres early yesterday afternoon. source


Status of Schools


  • 13 Feb: Tonga High School was damaged (photos). source



  • All airports are closed due to damage. source Tonga Airports Limited (TAL), which operates 6 airports, is closed, and phones are not operational. Their travel centre will reopen on 14 Feb to assist customers. source
  • 13 Feb: Fiji Airways advises that due to the adverse weather conditions associated with Tropical Cyclone Gita, a number of flights are canceled. Fiji Airways flights to/from Nuku’alofa, Tonga scheduled for Tuesday 13 February are canceled. Affected guests will be rebooked on subsequent flights and contacted by our Reservations Team once weather conditions permit and flight operations resume at Fua’amotu International Airport, (TBU). Fiji Link flights to/from Kadavu, Cicia, and Vanuabalavu over the next two days (Tuesday 13 February and Wednesday 14 February) are canceled. Affected guests will be rebooked on subsequent flights and contacted by our Reservations Team once the weather improves and airport/runway conditions permit. Guests are requested to ensure their contact details in their bookings are correct/ up-to-date. source


Lists of Airports / Links

  • Tonga Airports: website
  • Import Regulations and Tonga Customs Website

Roads and Bridges


  • 13 Feb:
    • Roads all over Tongatapu are blocked by debris and downed power lines hampering relief efforts. source
    • Roads all over Tongatapu are blocked by debris and downed power lines hampering relief efforts. source
    • Feb 12 Mr Kenna said it was very difficult to get around Nuku’alofa and although he only lives about 1.5km from his office, it took him 25 minutes to drive home due to downed power lines and debris on the roads. source


Useful Links

Maritime – Shipping – Ports


All enquiries can be directed to +(676) 23 168 during official hours and to +(676) 7716667 during after hours and only on emergency cases. source


Useful Links


Communications Sector

  • International dial code: +676 Tonga Communications Corporation (TCC) is the only fixed line operator in Tonga with a100% market share on fixed telephone lines.source
  • There are two mobile network operators – TCC and Digicel Tonga – both offering GSM and 3G services.
  • Internet: Country code: .to TCC states that it has a 70% market share on dial up and broadband internet. TCC’s internet service is called “Kalianet” and is available in Tongatapu, Ha’apai, Vava’u, and ‘Eua through WiMax broadband. Kalianet also offers ADSL2+ and leased line services. sourceDigicel and TCC offer mobile broadband services over their mobile networks.
  • The Tonga National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), located in the capital Nuku’alofa, uses both VHF and HF land based radio communication systems. In addition, the Tonga Meteorological Service uses land based VHF and HF radio. The NEMO/Met Office VHF network operates on three simplex channels. Given the very flat topography of Tonga, line of sight (LOS) connectivity is sufficient between the sites on the NEMO/Met VHF network in Nuku’alofa and Ha’apai. The VHF network used by the NEMO and Met Office has six active base station sites in Nuku’alofa. The VHF network on the island of Ha’apai (established in 2016) has four active VHF base station sites.
  • The Tonga Met Service also operates the country’s maritime coastal VHF and HF radio network. All international standard VHF marine channels (CH0-CH88) are programmed into the coastal VHF radio station. However, the VHF coastal radio channels actively used in Tonga are CH12, CH 16, and CH26. Multiple HF channels are programmed on the coastal HF network between the 2 – 9 MHz range.
  • Tonga Police and Defence also have their own radio communication networks. Fire are looking to establish a UHF radio network.


13 Feb:

  • Communications are difficult, as power remains off to many parts of the island. The national radio station has also been knocked out by Gita. source
  • Due to the known power outages and expected communications outages, the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Coord Ctr is monitoring and analyzing #Fiji and #Tonga for response and assisting with @VFRfiji for Tele-Med support. source
  • Mariners and ocean-going vessels can listen out on VHF Marine Ch26 and HF radio 4372KHz, 8746KHz at 4-hourly intervals for weather updates. Next update 1603h
  • UCall Tonga – If you are abroad, you can top up your loved ones on source
  • Main weather updates come from the Nadi weather website: Last update available here:


Useful Links

  • Tonga Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Website
  • Internet Kalianet Website
  • Tonga Communications Corporation / UCall Tonga: website, facebook
  • Tonga Cable Ltd: website
  • under the Ministry of Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications (MEIDECC), is the regulatory body for the telecommunications sector in Tonga. The Department is responsible for the overall management of the radio frequency spectrum in Tonga.


Amateur Radio

TONGA Amateur Radio Club of Tonga [ARCOT], Address: c/o Manfred Schuster, P.O. Box 1078, Nuku’alofa Tel: 676 22677 Secretary: Manfred Schuster, A35MS, IARU liaison: Secretary,

More info at website

Power and Fuel


13 Feb:

  • Vodafone is offering free calling and texts to Tonga for all customers for the next 48 hours beginning at 5pm on 13 Feb. source
  • The UCall at Unga Rd is open 24/7 if you need to charge your mobile phones. Sim cards and topups are also available. source
  • Digicel Tonga is working round the clock to get critical communication services back up and running so that emergency services, families and friends can connect. Currently there is full connectivity in Vava’u and Ha’apai and work to restore all services in Tongatapu is ongoing at pace. source
  • Authorities last night switched off the electricity for about 75,000 residents who live on Tongatapu. source
  • Power came back on in Aoloau before midnight last night, street lights too, out for 3 days, no water yet out since Friday morning. source
  • All Tonga Power offices in Tongatapu and the outer islands will be closed today until further notice. The power supply will remain off in order to allow the linesmen to survey the damages and assess what is required before any restoration works can take place. source


Useful Links

  • Tonga Power Limited: website (site down 13 Feb).

Water Systems


13 Feb:

  • Tonga Power update 13/2/18 – The power supply to Vaiola Hospital and Tonga Water Board have been restored. Tomorrow, 14th Feb, linesmen will continue to focus on restoring the power supply to priority service providers including NEMO, Digicel, TCC, A3Z, PM Office, Palace etc. To all residential customers, please note that the power supply to your areas will remain off until Thursday or Friday. Our team will carry out post cyclone surveys at each villages to know the extent of the damages caused to the network and what is required in order to carry out the restoration works. source
  • Power and water supplies are out in Nuku’alofa and not even tank water was likely to be available because many tanks had been blown over, Mr Kenna said. source
  • Electricity and water are back in [the town of] Apia source

Pictures and Videos

13 Feb:

    • Euronews video damage to buildings source
    • Damage at Matatahi Keleti Beach. source
    • Flooded police station in Longolongo. source

Pangaimotu Island Resorts near Nuku’alofa damage photos. source

  • Damage photos on Tonganow Facebook page. source
  • Video of damage. source
  • Video of storm hitting Nukualofa Hospital. source
  • Photo of vehicle thrown into air and downed trees. source
  • Photos of damaged church and buildings. source
  • Photos of flooded streets in Pahu. source
  • Video of flooded streets and other damage. source

Social Media

Twitter Accounts


#TCGita #CycloneGita #Tonga #Gita #Tongatapu


Accounts of Interest



FaceBook Accounts


Traditional Media

Traditional Media (TV, Radio, Newspapers)

Tonga Broadcasting Commission (TBC) is the national broadcaster for Tonga. TBC, which is government owned, runs three radio stations and two free-to-air television channels. Radio Tonga 1 (also known as A3Z) is the main AM radio station offered by TBC, and covers all of the country. In an emergency, Radio Tonga broadcasts regular updates on weather events. Radio Tonga 2 (also known as Kool 90 FM) is a commercial station. Under a joint partnership project, a new AM radio transmitter is being installed for TBC, the project kicked off in 2016. TBC also operates FM 103, a 24-hour Radio Australia relay. The TV channels are Television Tonga and Television Tonga 2. TV Tonga works in affiliation with overseas broadcasters whilst Television Tonga 2 offers more domestic content. source


  • Radio Tonga: website
  • Radio Tonga Vake Tali Folau Media USA Facebook
  • Radio Tonga VTF USA: website, facebook
  • Tonga radio stations, listen online. source
  • Radio stations in Nuku’alofa. source
  • TV Tonga: website

Animals in Disaster

  • 13 Feb: South Pacific Animal Welfare of New Zealand will be in touch with Tongan authorities over the coming days to seek advice as to what assistance they can provide. source

Volunteers Reporting

Alice, Aline, Cat, Chris, Cindy, Crystal, Eugenie, Joshua, Lloyd, Nafisa, Serena, Larry, Judi