5 Mar 2014

300 families in Tonga's Ha'apai still living in tents after cyclone

11:26 pm on 5 March 2014

The Tongan government says up to 300 Ha'apai families are still living in tents or evacuation centres following Cyclone Ian almost two months ago.

The category-five storm in early January killed one person and injured 14 others, displaced half the population of 8,000, flattened most of the food crops and destroyed infrastructure.

The director of the National Emergency Office, Leveni Aho, says Cyclone Kofi, forecasted to pass near Ha'apai last week, further complicated the situation for those who had lost their homes.

"We had another cyclone approaching. Our advice to the people in the Ha'apai group then was to put down their tent and try to move back to the evacuation centres which is much more safer than the tent. Luckily Cyclone Kofi did not generate much wind, so we escaped remarkably from that."

Leveni Aho says most of those people will move back from the evacuation centres to their properties this week.

He says construction of transitional housing, funded by the government, will begin in the next few months.