Nuku`Alofa: The South Pacific island nation of Tonga was lashed by a powerful cyclone on Friday, with damage reported in the northern islands.
A state of emergency was declared for Vava`u and Ha`apai islands today morning as category-five storm Cyclone Ian brought heavy rain and strong winds forecast to gust at up to 287 kph (178 mph), the Matangi Tonga news website said.
The main island of Tongatapu appears to have avoided the worst of the storm, which is at the top of the scale of destructive cyclones.
"We have received a damages report from the island of Hunga and our team are still out trying to get a feel, but there doesn`t appear to have been much damage in Vava`u at the moment," Tonga`s Director of Emergencies Leveni Aho told the website.
Aho advised against travel between Tongan islands during the storm and urged residents of outer islands to stay put.