5 Jan 2004

Tonga gearing up for the worst for the storm tonight

3:02 pm on 5 January 2004

Tropical Cyclone Heta is set to hit Tonga tonight.

The eye of the storm is expected to pass within 80 kilometres of the main island Savaii, which could cause devastating damage to the island.

Tonga is also bracing itself for destructive gale force winds from Heta which will be situated over 2000 kilometres north of Niuatoputapu at 1pm this afternoon.

The acting police commander in Tonga Taniela Faletau, says by 1am tomorrow morning, Cyclone Heta will be come within 150 kilometres east of Niuatoputapu.

Commander Faletau says contingency plans are in place, and everyone is prepared.

"We have activated warning on the radio programme, and we are now on stage two, that's the standby stage, on our preparation and for the past 48 hours we've had warnings right up to the northern groups. Cyclone committees have been activated near the northern islands of Tongatapu and their all ready to take the impact of the cyclone."

Tonga's acting police commander Taniela Faletau.