Flooding, power cuts in Vanuatu capital as Cyclone Irene hits

Photo: Hilaire Bule

Tropical cyclone Irene is causing flooding and power cuts in Vanuatu’s main city and closing roads.

RNZ Pacific’s correspondent in Port Vila said there’s flooding in some areas of the capital and road blocks caused by fallen trees.

Hilaire Bule said some parts of Port Vila were enduring power cuts.

Irene has cause mainly damage to fruits trees such as avocado and banana.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department said Irene is expected to hit the Island of Tanna, in south Vanuatu at midday Thursday local time.

A red alert is in place for Tafea, Shefa and Malampa provinces, while Penama and Sanma provinces are on yellow alert.

Alert level yellow is in place for the Loyalty islands in the east of New Caledonia.

Air Vanuatu’s international and domestic flights will be cancelled on Thursday and Friday for safety reasons.

Based on the French meteorological services 6:40 am update, winds in its centre are close to 101km per hour with gusts reaching 140km per hour.

A meteorologist at Meteo-France New Caledonia, Edouard Peleau, said the system is expected to remain at a steady intensity for the next 24 hours.

“It is currently appraching Tanna, the south of Vanuatu and is currently moving fast at the speed of 43km per hour. In the next 24 hours it will keep a steady intensity and then start to diminish.”

Meanwhile, the Fiji Meteorological Service said Irene is likely to track over open waters and remain to the southwest of Fiji, about 560km south-west off Kadavu on Thursday night.

It said heavy rain and thunderstorms is expected over Yasawa and Mamanuca Group, western and northern Viti Levu, Bua and Macuata Province, Vatulele, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands.

Source: RNZ