16 Feb 2010

Tonga's main island without power and water following Rene

5:52 am on 16 February 2010

Tonga remains under cyclone warnings after tropical cyclone Rene battered the capital, Nuku'alofa, overnight.

The cyclone damaged houses and crops on the Vava'u group of islands before hitting the main island of Tongatapu at about seven yesterday evening.

A hurricane warning remains in force for Ata, with a gale warning for Tongatapu, Eua, Ha'apai, Nomuka, and and is now cancelled for the Vava'u group.

Our correspondent Mateni Tapueluelu says the eye of the storm passed over at about 8pm, and started blowing again from the opposite direction

"Right now the power is out, the water is out, we've been getting reports that a lot of the trees and electricity poles, as well as debris, has been scattered on the road and it is expected that the army will be springing into action at daybreak to clear the road."

Mateni Tapueluelu says the cyclone has been downgraded from a category four storm to a category three.