Cyclone passes Tonga tourist spot

Last updated 12:47 25/01/2011
WILMA: Photo from US National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration.
WILMA: A photo from US National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration of the cyclone.

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A tropical cyclone which reached hurricane force early this morning has blown over the west side of Vava'u island in Tonga without incident.

Cyclone Wilma was predicted by Tonga's weather authorities to cause seas with "phenomenal [...] damaging heavy swell".

But Mounu Island Resort owner Alan Bowe said the cyclone blew over Vava'u at about 8am this morning, causing little damage.

"I can see blue sky at the moment. It was nowhere near what they were predicting. It blew a bit this morning, probably gusted at about 40 or 45 knots," he said.

"I can see the seas all around me here and there's no big swells here that I can see."

However, it is possible the storm was stronger on the eastern side of the island.

A spokesman for Fiji Meteorological Service said the storm was currently over Tonga, and heading south-west. 

Coincidentally as Wilma passed across Vava'u a magnitude 5.5 earthquake occurred in Neiafu, the main town on the island. No damage has been reported from the earthquake.

Wilma hit American Samoa yesterday and while it caused moderate damage, there were no fatalities.

Wilma is also expected to hit the remote Lau Group in Fiji before moving onto New Zealand.

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