7 April 2020 - Vanuatu

Cyclone Harold: Trail of destruction begins to emerge in Vanuatu

 Damaged caused by Cyclone Harold on Santo Island, Vanuatu

New reports of the significant damage left by category five Cyclone Harold are emerging as the storm leaves Vanuatu and moves towards Fiji.

Cyclone Harold made landfall on Vanuatu’s Santo Island on Monday, bringing winds in excess of 250km/h, making it among the most powerful storms on record in the Pacific.

Save the Children’s Country Director in Vanuatu, Luke Ebbs, said the reports he was receiving from staff on Santo – all of whom have been accounted for – painted a bleak picture.

“Our staff are telling us of widespread damage to homes, buildings and infrastructure. Trees have been stripped of their leaves and snapped by the powerful winds. Roofs have been ripped off buildings, and homes partially or completely collapsed,” Mr Ebbs said from Port Vila.

“Save the Children’s own office in Santo has been flooded while the homes of our staff have been damaged, some badly.

“At the moment we are not able to make contact via the usual phone networks. We know the impact of this storm will be significant, and as communications improve we will learn exactly how bad things are.

“Undoubtedly this will have been a very frightening situation, particularly for children, and there are many more challenges to come.”

Vanuatu is in a State of Emergency to prevent the introduction of COVID-19. So far there have been no confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

“It’s an incredibly challenging time right across the globe, and it’s hard to imagine a worse time for a mega storm like this to hit,” Mr Ebbs said.

“The Government of Vanuatu has done a good job preventing a COVID-19 outbreak to date, and we take confidence in the fact that the Vanuatu government, private sector, development partners and communities themselves are well experienced in responding to cyclones.

“Save the Children stands ready to do whatever is required to support the government to meet the needs of families and communities impacted by Cyclone Harold.”


For interviews or more information please contact Evan Schuurman at SC Aus on +61 406 117 937 / Evan.Schuurman@savethechildren.org.au or Rik Goverde in the GMU on rik.goverde@savethechildren.org / +44 (0) 7732 602 301.

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