Cyclone Winston forces Pacific Pearl to skip Fiji and head for Tonga

The monstrous Cyclone Winston has caused widespread damage in Fiji over the weekend and now the aftermath has forced Pacific Pearl ocean liner to reroute and head direct for Tonga, it has been reported today.

The cruise ship has left Auckland this evening and it was scheduled to dock in Suva on February 24 at 10am. While in Fiji it was scheduled to bearth at Fiji’s Ports Denarau and Dravuni on Friday and Saturday respectively.

The ocean liner has yet to update its current itinerary on the internet to reflect the changes but reports from Tonga says the cruise ship on its new route will arrive in Vavaʻu on Friday 26 and then Nukuʻalofa on Saturday 27.

Fiji began a clean-up operation today Monday 22 after one of the most powerful cyclone recorded in the southern hemisphere tore through the Pacific island nation, flattening remote villages and killing at least 20 people, according to New Zealand media.

George Dregaso, of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office, told the Associated Press that about 80% of the nation’s 900,000 people were without regular electricity.

Fiji media said it was likely the number of death toll will rise as more missing persons are still unaccounted for including fishermen who have yet to return from sea.

There was fear for the welfare and lives of residents in outlying areas as there was no means of communication to reach them since the cyclone hit.

In Tonga, Cyclone Winston affected about 230 homes in Vavaʻu and trees and crops were extensively damaged before it veered away and hit Fiji.

Officials said it could take months to fully restore power and water systems in Vavaʻu.

The cyclone struck the northern islands group of Tonga on Tuesday. It continued north before making a U-turn and slamming into the group again  on Friday.

The P&O Cruises owned cruise liner’s current itinerary shows Pacific Pearl was scheduled to arrive in Nukuʻaofa on June 2.

It can carry up to 1800 passengers with 700 crew.


UPDATES: Fiji confirms 42 dead, declares state of emergency as Cyclone Winston tracks back south

Hundreds of homes in Vavaʻu destroyed by Cyclone Winston

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