Tropical Cyclone Judy hits Vanuatu, with another on its way

Storm uproots trees and forces evacuations with power cuts reported in the Pacific island nation’s capital.

A map of Vanuatu showing the capital Port Vila [Al Jazeera]

Tropical Cyclone Judy has swept through Vanuatu in the Pacific islands bringing heavy rain and strong winds, and requiring the evacuation of some residents from the capital, Port Vila.

Moving south, the Category 3 cyclone was located north of Port Vila at 7am local time on Wednesday (20:00 GMT on Tuesday). The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department warned of destructive hurricane-force winds of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour), gusting to 200km/h (124 miles per hour).

Authorities issued a red alert in Port Vila and some other regions. The capital was severely damaged by Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Pam in 2015, in which 24 people died.

Located to the east of Australia and the north of New Zealand, Vanuatu is made up of some 83 islands and is home to about 330,000 people.

Judy’s destructive winds uprooted trees and some people were evacuated to higher ground as the heavy rainfall triggered floods and inundated their homes.

There were reports of power cuts in the capital, and schools and businesses were closed.

Air Vanuatu cancelled all domestic and international flights but said it expected to resume services on Thursday.

On more remote islands, phone and internet reception was limited and people without access to cyclone warnings through radio or other communications were being alerted to the risks by provincial emergency coordinators.

Shadrack Welegtabit, a political adviser to the climate change minister, told the Associated Press news agency people had been warned of the impending cyclone earlier in the week and had been advised to stock up on drinking water and food, and strengthen the exteriors of their homes.

Welegtabit said it was too early to assess the extent of the damage with Judy still raging.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said it had detected a second weather system that could track across Vanuatu forming east of the state of Queensland.

Parts of New Caledonia, a French territory island nation in the South Pacific, could also be affected by the two storms.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies