Nuku’alofa - A fresh cyclone was brewing in the Pacific
near the Solomon Islands on Thursday as humanitarian groups struggled to get
relief supplies to outlying islands in Tonga devastated by Cyclone Ian.
Solomon’s forecasters said the region's second cyclone of
the summer could hit this weekend, a week after Ian slammed into Tonga, killing
one person, leaving about 4 000 homeless and destroying crops on outer islands.
Weather forecasts advised Solomon Islanders to keep
listening to radio outlets for advice as the strengthening tropical depression
in the region "poses threats to lives and properties".
Damage from Cyclone Ian was expected to run to several
million dollars in Tonga where the Red Cross had not been able to reach all the
affected people in the scattered islands four days after the storm passed.
"We've reached about 95% so far," said Red
Cross secretary general Sione Taumoefolau who is overseeing the distribution of
The UN issued a report on Thursday saying more than 50%
of 1 130 affected buildings on Tonga's central Ha'apai islands, which bore the
brunt of Cyclone Ian, were destroyed.
A further 34% of the buildings and all but four of the 17
schools "have major damage”, according to the report from the UN Office
for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
"[The] immediate challenge is logistics to
distribute relief and recovery items to outer islands, as well as within
affected areas," it said adding this was being done without a formal call
for international assistance.
The Tear Fund New Zealand aid organisation urged the
Tongan government to seek international help urgently before the devastation
"The fact is they have a very short but clear window
of time to raise support for this, and then it will drop off the radar,"
Tear chief executive Ian McInnes told Radio New Zealand.
"The needs of the Tongan communities will be
eclipsed soon enough in the media by other needs and other issues and the
window will have passed.
"My view is that if they want significant
international support, they should ask for that now."
Taumoefolau said he expected the government would appeal
for help within the next few days when the full cost of the damage was known.
New Zealand and Australia have each pledged $50 000 so
far to recovery efforts.