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Cyclone hits southern Fiji islands, damage uncertain

The aftermath of cyclone Gita is seen in Nuku'alofa, Tonga February 13, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. — Reuters picThe aftermath of cyclone Gita is seen in Nuku'alofa, Tonga February 13, 2018 in this picture obtained from social media. — Reuters picWELLINGTON, Feb 14 — Fijian authorities were working to establish contact with some remote southern islands today after powerful Cyclone Gita took down communications, though the Pacific Island nation's most populated centres avoided serious damage.

Radio NZ reported there were no doctors on the islands of Vatoa and Ono-i-Lau, where the Fiji Meteorological Service had forecast average wind speeds of 195 km per hour, with gusts of up to 275 km per hour overnight for a the Category 4 cyclone.

Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program said via Twitter that villagers on Ono-i-Lau had told it that crops and several houses had been destroyed, but there had been no reports of injuries.

Gita has already caused extensive damage in Samoa and American Samoa over the weekend, and hit Tonga hard on Monday night, causing widespread destruction and flooding.

Forecast tracking by Tropical Storm Risk had the cyclone moving westwards and then heading south and avoiding New Caledonia. — Reuters

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