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Dash for cover

Luke Nacei
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THREE Fijian women, who sheltered in their bathroom as Tropical Cyclone Gita battered Tonga on Monday night, say they are lucky to be alive.

For Mere Tunabuna and two other Fijian women on Nuku'alofa, prayers and the courage to run to the bathroom when the Category 4 cyclone struck the island kingdom were their only options.

The force of the monstrous cyclone was something Ms Tunabuna said she would remember for the rest of her life.

"A small island nation as Tonga to be hit by a Category 4 cyclone is just too devastating to think about," she said.

"About 12 midnight, our balcony windows were broken and the wind just rushed through our house, pulling down everything with it. Our only hope was our bathroom at 208 (their room number)."

She said with only God on their minds, they decided to run to the bathroom which was a few metres from their room to seek refuge. The women took shelter in the bathroom for several hours until the cyclone had passed.

"There are no reefs and mountains where the strong wind can at least control its momentum," Ms Tunabuna said.

"We are just too scared to think about how we are safe, but I tell you, Tonga is completely destroyed.

"To all my family and friends out there, thank you so much for standing with us during this trying time."

She said what she went through brought back memories of how she lost her father, Ratu Manasa Tunabuna, during Cyclone Kina 25 years ago.

She said they were lucky there wasn't any storm surges experienced because they lived closed to the shore.

Ms Tunabuna has been working in Tonga since 2014.

TC Gita has been labelled the worst storm to hit the country in 60 years.

Major buildings, including the country's 100-year-old Parliament House, were severely damaged.

The cyclone hit with maximum wind of 230km per hour, gusting to 278km per hour.

There were no confirmed reports of deaths, but there were a lot of injured people.

TC Gita made its way through to Fiji waters last night.

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