Emergency relief supplies to depart for Tonga

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced a RNZAF C130 Hercules aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies will depart for Tonga this afternoon.

“The full extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is still being assessed but there is an immediate need for assistance on the ground,” Mr Peters says.

“Initial assessments indicate there has been extensive damage to homes in Nuku’alofa and some damage to commercial buildings,” he says.

“About 5,700 people sought shelter in evacuation centres overnight, and it is expected these numbers will increase substantially tonight.”

The C130 Hercules is carrying family hygiene kits, shelter kits, jerry cans, and tarpaulins.

The plane will also carry a New Zealand government team to support the New Zealand High Commission assess emergency needs and respond to requests from the Government of Tonga.

At this stage Fuaʻamotu International Airport runway in Tongatapu is open to emergency supply aircraft only. A visual inspection of the international airport has shown the runway to be intact with minimal damage.

New Zealand is coordinating the international relief response alongside other countries including Australia.

Contact: Stephen Parker, Chief Press Secretary, 021 195 3528