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Trail of damage as Cyclone Donna skirts Vanuatu
by Staff Writers
Wellington (AFP) May 6, 2017

The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu began assessing the damage Saturday after being pounded by destructive winds from Cyclone Donna which brought down houses and buildings.

The storm was upgraded late in the day to a category four severe tropical cyclone by the Vanuatu Meteorological Service which warned "damaging gale to destructive storm force winds" would continue to hit Torba province.

The eye of the cyclone veered away from Vanuatu before making landfall but Disaster Management Office director Shadrack Welegtabit said winds in excess of 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph) wreaked havoc in outlying islands.

"The cyclone has passed through and we have now started our response, doing an assessment of the damage and what people need," he told AFP.

"It did not make landfall but the gale force winds affected some islands. There was damage to houses and buildings but we haven't had any reports of injuries."

A curfew was imposed in many of the populated islands on Friday with residents taking shelter in caves and evacuation centres until the storm passed.

Corrine Ambler from the Red Cross told Radio New Zealand they had made radio contact with Torres Islands in Torba where houses were destroyed.

"There's about 1,000 in the affected area and I understand that almost 200 people are taking shelter in a cave in one of the islands," she said.

Although Donna was tracking westwards towards New Caledonia said, the Meteorological Service said it would continue to impact on Vanuatu for another 24 hours.

"Heavy rainfall and flash flooding is also expected," it said in an advisory to the small nation of about 260,000 people.

In 2015, when Cyclone Pam slammed into Vanuatu, 11 people were killed and more than 65,000 homes were damaged or destroyed affecting about 70 percent of the population.

Atlantic storm season starts early, putting energy industry on notice
Washington (UPI) Apr 24, 2017
Atlantic hurricane season can cause power outages and high gas prices for consumers and the year is off early with Tropical Storm Arlene, forecasters note. Arlene was only the second such tropical storm observed in April in the Atlantic Ocean. Forecasters for the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Friday that detecting a storm as weak as Arlene was "practically impossible" before the m ... read more

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