Cyclone Gita intensifies as it takes aim at Tonga

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Wellington: Tonga was braced on Sunday for “very destructive winds” as Cyclone Gita took aim at the Pacific island nation a day after it wreaked havoc in Samoa.

The kingdom’s tropical cyclone centre has been activated and Red Cross, which is coordinating relief supplies, has warned islanders to be prepared.

“Very destructive hurricane force winds are expected from Monday morning,” Tonga’s Fua’amotu Weather Forecasting Centre said in a bulletin, forecasting gusts of 80 knots (148 kmh, 92 mph) with heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said Gita forced the evacuation of some 200 people and caused widespread flooding when it slammed into the island overnight Friday.

Gita had since intensified from a category two to category three storm as it took aim at Tonga and was expected to get stronger.

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