Tropical Cyclone Harold

Pacific nations stay vigilant against coronavirus in cyclone's aftermath

Cyclone Harold, a Category 5 storm with winds in excess of 251 km/h passed through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga, cutting power and destroying holiday resorts.

Dozens of people were killed when they were swept off a ferry off Solomon Islands.

Tonga's government said on Friday the island of 'Eua was without electricity and a number of houses were damaged, but no deaths had been reported.

Although no deaths were reported in Fiji, 26 people were injured and more than 6,000 people were evacuated from their homes during the storm.

'Bad timing': Cyclone Harold likely to hit Vanuatu as category 5

Vanuatu is bracing for a direct hit from the still intensifying Cyclone Harold, which is forecast to pass straight over the central islands, forcing the country to contend with dual emergencies.

Harold, a category four storm, was sitting off the country's west and continuing to strengthen on Sunday afternoon.

The system had slowed to a crawl, said Fred Jockley, a forecaster at the Vanuatu Meteorological Service, a worrying development as a slow-moving cyclone allows it to absorb more moisture, thus gaining size and strength.

Tropical Cyclone Harold has rapidly intensified to a category 4 cyclone

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department said Tropical Cyclone Harold is moving in a south-easterly direction at 8km/h.

The system is gathering more strength as it moves slowly towards northern Vanuatu.

The Fiji Meteorological latest forecast tracking map indicates Tropical Cyclone Harold will be a powerful category 5 when it crosses over Vanuatu.

A category five cyclone can have sustained winds of 252km/h.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office said the provinces of Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa are now on Red Alert.