World Bank Country Director for the Pacific, Franz Drees-Gross today expressed his condolences to all those affected by Cyclone Ian, which swept across Tonga’s Ha’apai and Vava’u island groups on Saturday January 11th. The full extent of damage is still being assessed but reports indicate that there has been one tragic death as a result of the Category 5 cyclone, with hundreds rendered homeless, as well as considerable devastation to crops and infrastructure.
“On behalf of the World Bank Group I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by Cyclone Ian, which is a poignant reminder of the all too present threat posed by natural disasters for Pacific Island countries,” said Drees-Gross. “We are ready to assist with recovery in any way that the Government of Tonga would find appropriate in the time ahead.”
He said that he had personally written to the Prime Minister of Tonga to give his condolences for the human and material loss caused by the disaster and to offer World Bank support for reconstruction efforts.
With the assistance of humanitarian agencies, relief efforts are underway in the affected islands but it is likely that further support will be required for longer-term recovery and rebuilding, especially villages in the hardest hit Ha’apai islands, where in some parts it is estimated that up to 75 percent of buildings have experienced damage. Houses, churches and other public buildings have all been affected, as well as power and communication networks.