Speed Reads

Nature's Nightmares

Tonga ravaged by Cyclone Gita, the worst storm to hit in 60 years

Tropical Cyclone Gita hit Tonga hard Monday night and into Tuesday morning, bringing down power lines, destroying buildings and crops, and causing injuries across the kingdom.

The winds were stronger than predicted, reaching 144 mph, and they ripped the roof off of the Tonga meteorological office, taking the national broadcaster off the air. The wind also flattened parts of the Parliament House, The Guardian reports, and several landmark buildings are "extremely badly damaged or destroyed," Graham Kenna of Tonga's National Emergency Management told Radio New Zealand. "It's quite a bad situation." There are 176 islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, 40 of them inhabited, and officials fear the damage could be even worse in the more isolated islands, where information is slow to come out.

Gita was the worst cyclone to pass so close to Tonga's main islands in six decades. It's expected to hit Fiji's Lau Islands by midday Tuesday.