Cyclone Ian: funeral service postponed

Cyclone Ian has been scaled down to category 4 but bad luck on the mango and breadfruit seasons as the cyclone has blown them down with a local reporter said “nothing left”.

Severe tropical cyclone Ian that was previously a category 5 system and expected to bear down in Vava’u in the last 6hrs has been cancelled with Tonga Met Services said people should still stay alert.  

The strong wind warning previously inforce for Niuatoputapu and Tafahi is now cancelled, said Tonga Med Services at 3:30pm today.

Moving north-northeast towards Fakakakai in the Ha’apai group, Cyclone Ian is expected to lie at about 20 km at 1pm today.

At the village of Longomapu in Vava’u people evacuated and moved to the  Free Wesleyan Church Hall as well as the Mormon Church buildings while heavy rain fell, Radio FM 89.5FM reported.

A  burial ceremony for a funeral supposed  to be buried  today was postponed because of the cyclone's damages.

Embalming is not available in the island and there is also no mortuary.

Kepuloni Savou from Ha’alaufuli Vava’u told the radio people moved to village’s hall and Mormon Church buildings.

Roofs were damaged and trees uprooted, he said.

The Tongan government announced a state of emergency for Vava'u and Ha'apai this morning .

Meanwhile  Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand issued a statement saying it is preparing to support Caritas Tonga's response to the cyclone.

And Oxfam is liaising with the Tongan Red Cross to prepare for an appropriate and coordinated response if required.

Oxfam New Zealand said it is expecting to send emergency staff to Tonga to assess the situation on the ground, and identify the most urgent needs.

Carlos Calderon, Pacific Humanitarian Manager for Oxfam New Zealand, says: "Once the urgent needs are assessed we are expecting to help coordinate the supply of clean water and sanitation for those affected by the disaster."

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