Monster storm strengthens in Pacific, lashing Vanuatu

  • Monday 06, April 2020 09:38 AM
  • Monster storm strengthens in Pacific, lashing Vanuatu
Sharjah24 - AFP: A deadly Pacific cyclone intensified as it hit Vanuatu on Monday, threatening a natural disaster that experts fear will undermine the impoverished Pacific nation's battle to remain coronavirus-free.
Tropical Cyclone Harold, which claimed 27 lives when it swept through the Solomon Islands last week, strengthened to a scale-topping category five superstorm overnight, Vanuatu's meteorology service said.

The cyclone is now packing winds of up to 235 kilometres per hour (145 mph), prompting red alerts across several provinces.

It made landfall on the remote east coast of Espiritu Santo island on Monday morning and was heading directly for Vanuatu's second-largest town Luganville, which has a population of 16,500.

The slow-moving storm is expected to pass north of the capital Port Vila early Tuesday.

Officials warned residents in the nation of 300,000 to expect flash flooding and said ships should stay in port or risk facing huge swells.