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14 Apr 2020 | 11:14 AM UTC

Vanuatu: Tens of thousands displaced as of April 14 following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Harold /update 6

Ni-Vanuatu authorities report that tens of thousands of people remain displaced by Tropical Cyclone Harold as of April 14; continuing disruptions to be expected over the coming days

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VUT

Event

Tens of thousands of people remain displaced in Vanuatu as of Tuesday, April 14, after Tropical Cyclone Harold recently struck multiple islands in the country. At least two people in Vanuatu were reportedly killed by the storm. According to humanitarian aid organization World Vision International, up to 35 percent of Vanuatu's population of 300,000 are in temporary shelters after losing their homes. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated on Monday, April 13, that approximately 90 percent of the population of Sanma province alone remain homeless. Additionally, more than half of all schools and a quarter of all health centers were damaged in the province as a result of the storm.

On Saturday, April 11, Vanuatu's President Tallis Obed Moses extended a state of emergency, originally declared over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, by 30 days due to the severe impact of Cyclone Harold. The National Disaster Management Office has stated that all foreign assistance will be strictly controlled amid the COVID-19 outbreak in continuing efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

Continued associated flooding and disruptions to transportation, business, power, and telecommunications are to be anticipated across the country in the coming days.

Context

Tropical Cyclone Harold made landfall on Espiritu Santo island on April 6 at approximately 13:00 (local time), causing flooding and serious infrastructural damage to buildings, particularly in Sanma province. Communications were cut off in the islands of Espiritu Santo and Malekula.

Rough seas from then-approaching Cyclone Harold swept dozens on a ferry overboard near the Solomon Islands in early April, leaving at least five confirmed drowned and over 20 others missing and presumed dead as of mid-April.

Advice

Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, anticipate continuing disruptions, and remember that running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) is enough to knock over an adult - and never drive through flooded streets; floodwater may also contain wastewater and chemical products.