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Tonga prepared for possible cyclone

Monday January 14, 2013 - 21:43 EDT

Tonga is gearing up for a possible cyclone as a tropical depression heads for the centre of the island chain.

Forecasters say it may develop into a cyclone in the next day or so.

Acting Prime Minister, Samiu Vaipulu, told Radio Australia says there's a good chance a tropical depression will pass by the island chain without strengthening into a cyclone.

Mr Vaipulu says there'll be another meeting of Tonga's National Emergency Management Office in the morning to discuss any developments overnight.

He says although the news is good, the tropical depression is still out there and it could turn around, gather strength and come back.

And the government is preparing in case the worst does happen.

"We are starting to identify evacuation centres... We'll start announcing which places to go to and things like that if this develops into a tropical cyclone." he said.

Mr Vaipulu says weather information and a warning on the possible threat started on radio and television on Sunday.

National Emergency Management Office Director, Leveni Aho told Radio Australia forecasters expect the weather front to move over Tonga late on Tuesday afternoon.

But he says the authorities are on standby.

"We have alerted most of the utilities, the police force, Tonga Defence Services, Tonga Red Cross and all the associated agencies that deal with disaster management." he said.

Mr Aho says no public warnings have been issued as the depression has not yet formed into a cyclone.


© ABC 2013

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