Vanuatu prepares for worst as Cyclone Pam approaches
Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office says it is preparing for the worst as Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to be upgraded to a category five storm in the next two days.
Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office says it is preparing for the worst as Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to be upgraded to a category five storm.
The cyclone, causing heavy rain and gale force winds in parts of Solomon Islands, is moving slowly towards Port Vila with winds at its centre of about 170 kilometres an hour.
Mary Baines has more.
A Vanuatu Meteorological Service forecaster Allan Ravai says Cyclone Pam is likely to hit the capital Port Vila tomorrow night.
ALLAN RAVAI: According to the current warning, it will be expected around 20:00 which is eight o'clock to the east Efate. It is forecast to be category five to the east of Efate. It is travelling very slow, average speeds of around 5 knots.
The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office acting director Peter Korisa says the storm is likely to become the most devastating cyclone since Cyclone Uma in 1987. Mr Korisa says if Cyclone Pam causes damage beyond the capacity of the Vanuatu government to handle, it will need to appeal to international donors. He says officials are working out how to give appropriate refuge to more than 45,000 people in Port Vila.
PETER KORISA: Public buildings like churches and the classrooms, school classrooms and community halls, in fact they don't really meet the standards. But we usually identify those with some basic facilities like toilets, and some buildings that can cater for such needs.
A Port Vila resident Evelyn Takalo says banks, shops, markets and schools are closing, and residents are getting ready to prepare their houses for the storm or evacuate.
EVEYLYN TAKALO: People are going back to their home, putting nails in the houses and in their roofs, and people who are living in areas such as slums they have to look for spaces maybe hiding in the classrooms and in community halls.
The Vanuatu Red Cross's Dickinson Tevi says workers are on standby to mobilise relief items like blankets, tarpaulins and first aid kits immediately after the cyclone hits.
DICKINSON TEVI: All our volunteers are ready, all our vehicles are ready, our supplies are ready, our first aid teams are ready with their kits, and also keeping in communication with our branches in the provinces. We have one container of relief items in each province on standby so that we can mobilise those relief items immediately after the cyclone.
Solomon Islands has also felt the impact of Cyclone Pam with the provinces of Malaita, Makira and Temotu experiencing heavy rainfall with gale force winds of more than 80 kilometres an hour. New Caledonia's civil defence organisation has issued a cyclone pre-alert. It says on its current path, Cyclone Pam will pass about 200 kilometres east of the island of Mare on Saturday, bringing violent gusts and heavy rain. The pre-alert means people are advised to check on their emergency supplies, prepare their dwellings and desist from planning prolonged activities outdoors.
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