Cyclone Lola wind gusts of up to 320km/h: Red Cross fears 'major, major damages'

Red Cross Vanuatu is concerned it does not have enough relief to support people through the category 5 Cyclone Lola which is moving through Northern Vanuatu.

Very destructive hurricane force winds with gusts of up to 320km/h are forecast to affect the provinces of Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa within the next 24 hours.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Service says Cyclone Lola is due to make landfall over Pentecost Island at about midday Wednesday local time.

Vanuatu Red Cross spokesperson Shirley Johnson in Santo feared communication lines were down in Torba province and had not been able to reach anyone there.

"We are expecting to have major, major damages. I am afraid we won't have enough relief in time to save the people," she said.

Johnson said there is "only one storage facility" holding enough relief kits for only "100 households," when the Torba province's population is over 9000 people.

She said after the cyclone moved through these provinces, they would need to assess the damage before speaking to their headquarters to request more supplies.

Residents on Vanuatu's north-eastern islands are already feeling the severe tropical Cyclone Lola before making landfall.

The nearest province to Torba is Sanma, where 600 relief packs would be available to families through the Red Cross.

"I am a bit scared, hearing the power of the cyclone it makes me very afraid that it might not end up well. I am just praying we will not face a bad impact of the cyclone," Johnson said.

Heavy rainfalls with flash flooding are expected over low-lying areas close to riverbanks, including coastal flooding.

People in the Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa province and Shefa province are advised to listen to the radio for the latest information.

Johnson said people were well prepared in anticipation of the Cyclone Lola.

"People are patiently waiting and preparing with emergency packs and some people since Monday have been voluntarily moving."

Communications provider Digicel Vanuatu confirmed there were "no reports of any tower outages".

The company's head of customer experience & operations Dax Bermejo told RNZ Pacific "all our towers in the north are functioning properly but the weather conditions caused by the cyclone said that "some of our services may be impacted".