Bikes light up Vanuatu Pacific as residents hunt

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Residents of Vanuatu hunkered down Wednesday as a cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.

The authorities said that there was a power outage in some areas and many trees and branches had fallen, but that it was too early to assess the extent of the damage with Cyclone Judy still rising. They said there were no initial reports of major destruction or deaths.

Some had moved to evacuation sites as heavy rain flooded their homes.

Others barricaded themselves indoors as authorities issued a red alert in the capital, Port Vila, and some other regions – meaning people should not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

The cyclone forced businesses and schools to close, and airlines to cancel flights.

Brenda Williams, spokeswoman for Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office, said Cyclone Judy was packing damaging winds of around 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) with gusts of up to 200 kph (124 mph).

Williams said the calmer eye of the tropical cyclone had passed the capital on Wednesday morning and was starting to experience strong winds again as the tail moved. through

She said that the central and southern islands were going to be hit and that they were still waiting for damage reports from many places.

Shadrack Welegtabit, political adviser to the climate change minister, said people had been warned of the impending cyclone earlier this week and had been preparing by stocking up on drinking water. and fresh food, and by strengthening outside their homes.

“It is too early to assess the damage; we are still in the middle,” he said. “The other half is coming soon.”

Located east of Australia and northern New Zealand, Vanuatu is home to around 300,000 people.

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