“Vanuatu is bracing for a direct hit from the still intensifying Cyclone Harold, which is forecast to pass straight over the central islands, forcing the country to contend with dual emergencies.
“Harold, a category four storm, was sitting off the country's west and continuing to strengthen on Sunday afternoon.
“On its current track, Harold is forecast to pass directly over the islands of Malekula and Ambrym late on Monday as a powerful and destructive category five storm - the highest category there is - with winds near its centre in excess of 200km/h.
“On Sunday, reports from islands in Vanuatu's west - including Santo, the country's largest - indicated that damage had already been done, with people forced to flee villages or find higher ground.
“Vanuatu has been in a state of emergency for weeks, with the country in effective lockdown. The border has been closed, and people have been ordered to stay home with gatherings of more than five people banned.
“But that could prove difficult to maintain if the cyclone is as destructive as feared, with people likely to be forced to move from village-to-village, and others forced to congregate in mass evacuation centres that are already opening across the central provinces.”
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