Few of the country's 14 islands were spared damage, said Sumeo Silu, the director of the country's disaster management office. Two hundred people had been evacuated on main island Funafuti alone, he said, as reports of significant damage to infrastructure came in from outer islands.
"It's quite devastated," Mr Silu said.
On Funafuti on Friday, the normally calm and shimmering lagoon was stirred into a raging muddy cauldron. In the tempest, two giant barges were shunted from their moorings onto the beach, said Semi Malaki, a local broadcaster.