Call for Vanuatu's North Malekula to be declared a disaster zone

Vanuatu's Minister of Health Jerome Ludvaune has urged the government to declare North Malekula a disaster zone, saying Cyclone Hola left damage earlier this month similar to that of Cyclone Pam.

The minister who comes from Malekula said students in four communities in North Malekula couldn't return to class because their classrooms had been damaged.

He said other schools couldn't be reached due to fallen trees blocking the roads.

According to the Daily Post, the minister predicts more difficult times ahead for the people saying the cyclone has also destroyed their coconut, cocoa and kava plantations.

The Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has cancelled his visit to Malekula to inspect the damage because of a land dispute.

A spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Salwai would visit the island once dispute, involving the site of the Malampa Provincial Headquarters, is resolved.

Meanwhile, custom chiefs of Pentecost have welcomed Mr Salwai and the Minister of Climate Change, Ham Lini, to speak to people and assess cyclone damage on their island.