Curfew issued in Vanuatu as cyclone Donna batters Torba

Disaster authorities in Vanuatu have issued a curfew for people in Torba province as the severe Category 3 Cyclone Donna batters the country's north.

The latest cyclone warning issued by the Vanuatu Meteorological Service at 5:00am this morning says Donna is generating sustained wind speeds of 130 kilometres an hour at its centre with gusts reaching up to 190 kilometres an hour.

The system was moving in a westerly direction at about 16km/hr and threatening to make landfall in the Torres Island group.

The director of the Vanuatu Disaster Management Office, Shadrack Welegtabit, said he was concerned with the moderate speed at which Donna was travelling because it would cause more damage the longer it lingered in the province.

"The most at Risk Island currently is the northenmost island of the Torres group. We are currently putting a red alert for them meaning they should remain indoors until we give the all clear for them to do other activities outside their safe areas," said Shadrack Welegtabit.

The current location of the cyclone is also near Vanuatu's maritime border with the Solomon Islands which means people on the southernmost island of Vanikoro in Solomon Islands' Temotu province will also be feeling the effects of Cyclone Donna.

Meanwhile, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre in Hawaii, global forecast data suggests the system was likely to undergo a period of rapid intensification.

"The cyclone could reach a severe category 4 system with very destructive wind gusts as high as 260km/hour," the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre warned.

Advice from officials in Vanuatu

The authorities are warning people there to prepare by securing their homes and valuables, cutting down dangerous trees, organising food and water, and having torches, charged phones and an evacuation kit ready.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office advises people that Red Alert was now current for Torba province, Yellow Alert was now current for Sanma province.

People are being advised to take extra precautions for possible flash flooding; especially areas close to river banks and in low lying areas, and to remain indoors where thunderstorm activities are happening.

Coastal flooding was also expected.

Torba and Sanma and Penama, Malampa and Shefa should listen to all Radio Outlets to get the latest information on this severe system.


Photo: Vanuatu Daily Digest (Vanuatu Meteorological Services's new cyclone tracking map with Beaufort scale. At 5:00am this morning Cyclone Donna was a category 3 system located in square F-2 on the Vanuatu Solomon Islands border moving in a westerly direction at 16 km/hr).