Cyclone Donna batters northern parts of Vanuatu

TROPICAL cyclone Donna has caused serious damage in the northern parts of Vanuatu.

Speaking to the Independent by phone Friday, Father Luc Dini from the Banks Islands said the situation involving 145kmh winds and driving rain was relentless throughout Thursday and Friday.

“It’s been here for hours and doesn’t make any effort to move out at all,” he said.

“People have been advised to go and hide in the Police station, the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and the schools.

“So far the schools are closed down as from Thursday and only a few shops are open.”

Fr Dini said the food gardens there were really affected, with all of the banana and other fruit trees down.

“We are experiencing flooding everywhere,” he said.

“A small house used for cooking has been flown out into the river and the rivers are running very fast as well.

“The seas are extremely rough as well but we have managed to put all the boats on shore to safety.”

Fr Dini said so far he hadn’t had any contacts with one of his sons in the Torres islands because there was no communication at all.

He believed the situation was worst there at the time.

Cyclone damage at Unity Park in Luganville.
Cyclone damage at Unity Park in Luganville.

Chris Bule from Luganville in Santo said the wind and the rain were getting stronger and heavier on Friday.

“The Sarakata river in Santo has overflowed and the seas are very rough as well,” he said.

“The areas that are being flooded are the Solway and Pepsi and people have had to move out from their homes because water is mainly up in their kitchens.”

Another Santo resident, John Titus at Tanovushvush, South Santo, also described very strong winds and heavy rains.

“Many of the rivers are running high so many of the trucks are not using the roads because it’s not safe,” he said.

“So far we have no damage except for the banana trees going down.”

A local from South East Malekula said they are also experiencing strong winds and heavy rain but no flooding or damage as of mid-Friday.

The Independent tried to call locals from Ambae and Pentecost but they were unreachable.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department (VMGD) said at 2pm local time this afternoon, Donna was about 80km north northwest of Torres and 215km northwest of Gaua. The system was moving in a southeast direction at 5kph.

The central pressure of the system is estimated at 954 hPa, with winds close to the centre estimated at 145kph, gusting to 205kph.

VMGD cyclone track map issued Friday afternoon.
VMGD cyclone track map issued Friday afternoon.

Very destructive winds and very rough seas with heavy swells are expected to affect TORBA, SANMA and MALAMPA provinces over the next 48 hours. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding is also expected over TORBA, SANMA, PENAMA and MALAMPA, especially over low lying areas and areas close to river banks. Coastal flooding is also expected.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has advised that a Red Alert is now current for TORBA province, while a Yellow Alert is now current for SANMA and MALAMPA provinces.