Close to 70 percent of Vanuatu's Luganville destroyed by Cyclone Harold

The MP for the cyclone-devastated Vanuatu town of Luganville says up to 70 percent of buildings have been destroyed.

Matai Seremaiah returned to the country's second-largest town yesterday, and said it had been transformed by the direct hit from the category five Cyclone Harold this week.

He said two people died on Malo island, and he estimated more than a thousand people were in evacuation centres.

Mr Seremaiah said power had been restored to the hospital, but there was a dire need for water and shelter.

"When I got down yesterday I was just lost, just don't know where to start," he said.

"What we're doing now is we went on to some communities and started organising young people to group up and to equip them with chainsaws and start clearing up the yards, because if we don't clear up the yards they start to attract mosquitos and then the next thing we have malaria or dengue fever coming in."

The MP said help was desperately needed, with many now homeless.

He said contact was still to be made to many rural areas, but assessments from places like Pentecost were grim.

"There's a lot of injuries but all the dispensaries are down and they're airlifting them to Port Vila. The cyclone passed them at night and it's really bad, from the central part to the southern part of Pentecost. Many people are living outside at the moment."

NZ sends plane to Vanuatu

Meanwhile a New Zealand military plane will head to Vanuatu later this week carrying aid supplies and a helicopter.

It's the latest announcement of support for Vanuatu.

Foreign minister Winston Peters said the Hercules would be loaded with supplies including satellite phones, chainsaws and agricultural kits.

It would return with New Zealanders who wanted to leave Vanuatu after the country closed its borders to keep out Covid-19. 

The private helicopter would help with medical evacuations.

Mr Peters said serious protocols would be applied to ensure support got to those who needed it, while also keeping Vanuatu free of the coronavirus. 

New Zealand's total support so far amounts to $US1.5 million.