Chief Secretary Edgar Cocker. Photo/Kalino Lātū (Kaniva Tonga)

Tropical Cyclone Tino is approaching Fiji today, Tonga on Saturday and by early next week the storm will be an ex-cyclone near New Zealand, New Zealand’s Weather Watch said this morning.

The cyclone warning has forced Tonga government to close down its services at 12:20pm today.

“The Prime Minister’s Office wishes to inform all Chief Executive Offices and the public service as well as the general public, that the Cabinet this morning approved for the public service to close down today, 17 January at 12:30 noon time,” the Chief Secretary said in a statement sent to Kaniva news and other media.

“This decision is based on the warning for Tropical Cyclone Tino currently in force for Tonga, and to allow for the necessary preparations.”

 People in Fiji and Tonga are being urged to prepare as Cyclone Tino moves towards a major island, RNZ reported.

The storm was declared a category one cyclone about 3am Fiji time, when it was about 35km south of the remote island of Rotuma.

The radio said: “Heavy rain, strong winds and coastal warnings were in force for much of Fiji, with the cyclone forecast to pass over the country’s second island, Vanua Levu, this afternoon.

“It was expected to pass close to the town of Labasa, which has a population of about 30,000.

“Cyclone Tino was also expected to intensify further, and was forecast to pass close to Tonga’s capital Nuku’alofa tomorrow as a category two.”

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