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Cyclone Harold bears down on Vanuatu, predicted to bring winds of 215kph

Monday April 6, 2020 - 03:42 EST
ABC image
Some areas of Vanuatu have already experienced heavy rain and winds due to Cyclone Harold. - ABC

Disaster officials in Vanuatu are urging communities, many of them in remote locations, to shelter as a category five tropical cyclone rapidly approaches the island nation.

Cyclone Harold strengthened to a category five storm overnight, bringing winds of around 215 kilometres per hour near its centre.

Vanuatu Red Cross disaster management coordinator Augustine Garae said there had already been reports of heavy rains and flooding in the country's northern islands.

"Now safety is a priority, for people to find safe shelter before the cyclone makes landfall in their area," he said.

He warned Cyclone Harold could affect more islands than the and is considered one of the worst natural disasters in Vanuatu's history.

The storm is predicted to pass north of the capital Vila with winds of between 200 to 250kph on Monday.

Damage has already been reported from the island of Santo, with people forced to flee their villages for higher ground.

More than a dozen people remain missing in the Solomon Islands, to the north-west of Vanuatu, after being swept from a ferry in rough conditions whipped up by the cyclone.

Five bodies were recovered on Sunday during a search for the 27 people believed missing from the MV Taimareho. Three of the victims have been identified.


© ABC 2020

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