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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (January 24, 2000 – Radio Australia)---A gale warning is in force for the Ha‘apai group of islands with a strong wind warning remaining in force for the remainder of the country.

A tropical depression is located about 50 nautical miles southwest of Vava‘u and about 30 nautical miles north of Ha‘apai, moving southeast at about five knots.

The depression has the potential to develop into a tropical cyclone within the next 24-hours.

Residents of Ha‘apai are being warned to expect strong easterly winds, possibly increasing to damaging gale force with average speeds up to 35 knots and gusts to 55 knots beginning this evening.

Periods of heavy rain and very rough seas also are expected.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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