Pacific’s monster storm destroys tourist resorts in Tonga

NUKU’ALOFA, TONGA (AFP) – A resurgent Tropical Cyclone Harold flattened tourist resorts in Tonga yesterday, extending a week-long trail of destruction across four South Pacific island nations that has claimed more than two dozen lives.

The cyclone gathered pace as it bore down on the tiny island kingdom, which declared a state of emergency, warning residents to seek shelter from destructive winds and massive sea surges.

By early yesterday it had again become a scale-topping Category Five superstorm.

Packing winds of up to 260 kilometres per hour, it cut power in parts of the country and police said at least three tourist resorts had been reduced to rubble.

The cyclone killed 27 people in the Solomons late last week before barrelling southeast to directly hit Vanuatu, obliterating entire towns in the northern provinces.