§ Mr. Iremonger
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he will make a statement about the hurricane which struck Tonga on 16th and 17th March last.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
A hurricane swept through the northern part of Tonga on the 16th and 17th March affecting the islands of the Há'apai group and Vava'u. Two people were reported killed and 8,000 rendered homeless. Reports show that extensive damage was done to houses and public buildings, copra plantations and subsistence crops.
Immediate assistance was afforded by the Fiji Government who sent a Public Works Department engineer and the Inspector-General of the South Pacific Health Service to survey the Kingdom's needs. Anti-typhoid vaccine was flown in on 22nd March, clothing and food were provided by the Fiji Branch of the Red Cross and a party consisting of an engineer and 20 artisans with equipment and stores left Fiji for the affected areas on 25th March.
The New Zealand and Australian Governments have generously made available foodstuffs to the value of £5,000 and £5,600, respectively, as practical demonstrations of interest in the welfare of the Tongan people. Her Majesty's Government have agreed, as a token of sympathy, to make a grant of 28W £7,500, which will cover the immediate aid already given by the Fiji Government on behalf of Her Majesty's Government as a contribution to the relief of the Kingdom's distress. A Supplementary Estimate for this sum will be presented at the earliest convenient opportunity and, in the meantime, the necessary funds will be issued from the Civil Contingencies Fund.