Reports of extensive damage are emerging from parts of Vanuatu struck by Cyclone Harold yesterday, but communication with much of the battered region is proving difficult.
Winds in excess of 230km/h tore across the country's northern and central islands, and heavy rain has damaged many roads and food gardens.
The cyclone, still a category five, is slowly moving away from the country towards Fiji, providing an opportunity for assessment flights to begin.
Phone communication is down to many affected islands - Maewo, Pentecost, Ambae, rural Santo, and others - which sustained the cyclone's full force overnight.
On Santo, where Harold first made landfall yesterday, damage is understood to be extensive.
Already, pictures sent from the region have told a grim tale; a large ship shunted ashore by ferocious waves; palm trees splintered and stripped of colour; rivers spilling over banks and into villages, forcing residents to flee in the backs of utes; roofing iron being thrown across towns.
In Santo's main town, Luganville, a local MP, Matai Seremaiah, said initial reports suggested about 50 to 70 percent of buildings in the town were damaged, with hundreds sheltering in evacuation centres.
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