22 Feb 2011

Vanuatu disaster officials to discuss response to Cyclone Atu

11:09 am on 22 February 2011

A meeting has been called for this afternoon by Vanuatu's disaster officials to discuss the emergency response to the damage caused by Cyclone Atu.

The chief officer of UNICEF in Vanuatu, May Pascal, says there was minimal damage reported on Efate island and no disruption to telecommunications and power services.

But May Pascal says they are still trying to get through to UNICEF officials in Tafea province, as the cyclone passed east of Tanna this morning.

"They were all preparing for the coming of this cyclone as they were aware it would go very near them. But this morning, my contacts aren't answering and it might still be going on strong right now. The goverment is calling a meeting for all partners at 1.30 to look at rapid assessment."

The lead forecaster at the Fiji met office, Miaseli Funaki, says the category 4 storm was about 144 kilometres early this morning east-north-east of Tanna.

He says it is packing winds of over 100 kilometres an per hour.

The winds have picked up in Aneityum, it's one of the islands to the South. They were reporting winds of as much as 55 knots. So there's a good indication that it's gradually moving south.