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05 Apr 2020 | 06:38 AM UTC

Vanuatu, Solomon Islands: First deaths reported as Cyclone Harold passes the Solomon Islands 5 April /update 3

First deaths reported due to Cyclone Harold after multiple individuals are swept off ferry near the Solomon Islands

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Event

The first deaths due to Cyclone Harold were reported on Friday, April 3, when at least five people drowned after being swept off a ferry near the Solomon Islands. Police have stated that their search continues in the southern islands, in the archipelago, as at least 25 people remain missing. The ferry, MV Taimareho, has since sought shelter from the passing storm at Su'u Harbour in Malaita Province.

A red alert has been issued by the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) for Sanma, Penama, and Malampa provinces. Cyclone Harold is currently a category 4 tropical storm, with winds of up to 175 km/h (109 mph) reported, and is tracking to the south-southwest at 3 km/h (2 mph). The cyclone is expected to intensify as it moves near Vanuatu over the next 24 hours.

Advice

Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, anticipate adverse weather and power and transportation 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.