What Tonga's like right now? 1 NEWS' Barbara Dreaver in the path of the storm as Cyclone Gita nears

People in Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa are beginning to prepare for the worst as Cyclone Gita barrels towards them today, with the possibility of slamming into the island nation as a devastating Category-5 storm late tonight.

1 NEWS Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver is in Nuku'alofa reporting on the preparations being made ahead of the cyclone.

"In downtown Nuku'alofa people are starting to nail down their roofs and many have already started to board up.

"People have sent their staff home now, getting their emergency supplies and making sure their families are safe with Cyclone Gita possibly hitting as a Category-5 later tonight," she says.

Cyclone Gita is currently a Category 4 but is expected to be a Category 5 when it hits Tonga about 7pm today. 

Ofa Fa'anunu from the Tonga Meteorological service says Gita will be the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Kingdom.

A state of emergency has been declared. Source: 1 NEWS

He is warning the public to go to evacuation centres as soon as possible.

Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika today signed the state of emergency declaration due to "the destructive force winds and sea rises caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita".

"It is necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage, and damage to the environment," the declaration read.

The Tongan Community in New Zealand is watching on with anxiety.

"I think the worry is there, and everybody is braced to find out what the cyclone will do," Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka told 1 NEWS.

"If it hits Tongatapu as a Category 5 there will be a lot of damage.

"The last time there was a cyclone, it wasn’t a Category 5 and it did a lot of damage to the shoreline," Mr Maka said.
 

1 NEWS reporter shows you how Tongans are readying for category 5 storm. Source: 1 NEWS



Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding details released

Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle have released more details about their May wedding, revealing that the event will include a carriage ride through Windsor so they can share the big day with the public.

Markle, 36, is an American divorcee and the couple have known each other for just 16 months. Source: 1 NEWS

The late night viewing will proceed accordingly for New Zealand audiences on May 19-20:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Source: 1 NEWS

- 11pm NZT (midday for them): The wedding service will being at St George's Chapel in Windsor with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Hon Justin Welby, officiating as Prince Harry and Ms Markle make their vows.

- Midnight NZT: the newly married couple will take a carriage procession along a route from St George's Chapel through the city of Windsor.

At this point, public access to the royal couple will end, but their own private celebrations will not.

Following the service, there will be a reception at St George's Hall for the couple and guests form the congregation. The couple will join this on return from the carriage procession.

Later that evening Charles, the Prince Of Wales, will give a private evening reception for the couple and their close friends and family.

Kensington Palace say they will be revealing further details about the wedding day in the coming months.

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State of emergency declared in Tonga as Kingdom braces for Cyclone Gita

A state of emergency has officially been declared in Tonga as the potentially-destructive Cyclone Gita bears down on it.

Cyclone Gita is currently a Category 4 but is expected to be a Category 5 when it hits Tonga about 7pm tonight.

Ofa Fa'anunu from the Tonga Meteorological service says Gita will be the strongest cyclone on record to hit the Kingdom.

He is warning the public to go to evacuation centres as soon as possible.

Acting Prime Minister Semisi Sika today signed the state of emergency declaration due to "the destructive force winds and sea rises caused by Tropical Cyclone Gita".

"It is necessary for emergency powers to be exercised in order to prevent or minimise the loss of human life, illness or injury, property loss or damage, and damage to the environment," the declaration read.

The state of emergency will remain in effect for a month, unless terminated earlier by the Prime Minister.

The Tongan Community in New Zealand is watching on with anxiety.

"I think the worry is there, and everybody is braced to find out what the cyclone will do," Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka told 1 NEWS.

"If it hits Tongatapu as a Category 5 there will be a lot of damage.

"The last time there was a cyclone, it wasn’t a Category 5 and it did a lot of damage to the shoreline," Mr Maka said.

"It's quite frightening, we just have to wait and see how the cyclone tracks."

Schools and Govt departments are closed today - shops are open and many residents are stocking up on emergency supplies and equipment. 

Tonga's Meteorological Service has issues a Hurricane Warning for Tongatapu and 'Eua, as well as damaging swell, heavy rain and flash flooding warnings.

Category-5 storms are the top of the scale, with winds of more than 252km/h.

Cyclone Winston, a Category-5 tropical cyclone which formed in February of 2016, killed 44 people in Fiji, injured 126 more and destroyed or damaged 40,000 homes.

Forecasts are currently about half and half on whether the remnant of the storm will eventually make landfall in New Zealand next week.

A state of emergency has been declared. Source: 1 NEWS

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