Destinations

Dozens killed as Cyclone Harold belts Pacific Islands

At least 29 people have been killed by a devastating cyclone that continues to make its way across the Pacific Islands.

Cyclone Harold formed on Thursday 2 April (local time) in the Coral Sea before heading east toward the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Solomon Islands were the first to be blasted by the strengthening cyclone over the weekend, then categorised as a tropical storm, with The Guardian reporting that at least 28 people were missing and feared killed after their ferry encountered dangerous seas.

Multiple outlets later confirmed that at least 27 people on board the vessel, which reportedly defied cyclone warnings, had been killed.

The passengers were reportedly swept from MV Taimareho, a vessel travelling from the capital of Honiara to West Are Are port in Malaita province, on a charter organised by their local MP as part of a COVID-19 contingency plan, which has seen people evacuated back to their home villages.

Increasing to a catastrophic category five cyclone, Harold hit Vanuatu on Monday, where at least two people have been killed, ABC News reported.

Communication lines to Vanuatu’s hardest-hit islands – Espiritu Santo, Malo and Pentecost, among others – were severed by the storm, with calmer weather providing an opportunity for emergency officials to assess the cyclone’s full devastation.

Adding to concerns is that the news that urgent international relief supplies will have to be quarantined for “seven days”, SBS News reported. Vanuatu was already in a state of emergency because of COVID-19 and is awaiting general election results.

Speaking to the outlet, aid organisations say they are aware of the potential danger of accepting goods from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic, but remain confident they can manage the risk.

“It is likely that the cyclone recovery will require international aid in the form of funds or goods, but we have confidence we can do this in a way that’s locally-led and which minimises the risk of COVID-19,” Julia Marango, resilience manager for CARE in Vanuatu, told SBS News.

On Wednesday, after battering Vanuatu, the storm was downgraded to a category four cyclone before reaching Fiji as it continued heading south-east, where it levelled buildings and caused dangerous flooding on the country’s largest island, Viti Levu.

After weakening slightly yesterday, Cyclone Harold has again strengthened to a powerful category five storm, as it tracks past Tonga.

Matangi Tonga news reported the cyclone was expected to coincide with both a king tide and “supermoon” on Thursday. An extreme high tide warning has reportedly been put in place for all Tonga coastal waters for Thursday and Friday.

As of 2pm Thursday (local time), the Tonga government has downgraded its cyclone warning. The full impact of the storm is yet to be known, however, multiple reports of severe flooding have emerged.

Ofa lahi atu Tonga. Especially everyone that’s affected by the sea flooding from Tropical Cyclone Harold. Malo reporter Lipe. ??????❤️❤️❤️??????

Posted by Radio Nuku'alofa 88.6FM on Wednesday, 8 April 2020

#CycloneHarold#HofoaTongaKia Ora Hofoa – ‘Ofa atu. My village in Tonga ?? after Cyclone Harold – Flooding but all are well and in good spirit. https://www.facebook.com/miss.kano/videos/539528653609200/

Posted by Anahila Kanongataá-Suisuiki Labour MP on Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Twitter to voice his support for nations being gripped by the storm, alongside separate confirmation that Australia had offered assistance to several of the countries affected by the storm, as reported by ABC News.

While executive secretary of United Nations Climate Change Patricia Espinosa Cantellano said the storm was another example of extreme weather linked to climate change affecting Earth’s most vulnerable destinations.

Featured image: Cyclone Harold batters Vanuatu (NASA earth observatory/earthobservatory.nasa.gov)


SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Destinations

This tourism ad is so weird and trippy, it’ll have you declaring “WTF did I just watch?”

Did you perhaps take an ecstasy tablet in your misspent youth? Travel Weekly warns this ad could bring it back on 15 years later.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Sabre’s Nicole Regel promoted to regional role

Travel Weekly understands Nicole Regel is eyeing the IKEA JÄRVFJÄLLET leatherette swivel chair in charcoal after her recent promotion.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

P&O extends Aussie cruise pause, as Pacific Adventure emerges from dry dock

Don’t let the headline fool you; this article also contains some uplifting cruise news to give sail-savvy agents a little Friday boost.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Travel industry veteran takes “black sheep” approach to help brands navigate COVID landscape

Trish Shepherd, the mastermind behind this new company, has assured us it’s got nothing to do with agricultural practices, as we first imagined.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

“A wonderful spectacle”: Spain’s Tourism Minister suggests using catastrophic volcanic eruption to attract visitors

The country’s Tourism Minister is in hot water after she appeared to propose using a volcanic eruption that has destroyed hundreds of homes to lure tourists to the Canary Islands.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

WATCH: Flight attendant promises to annoy passengers who don’t wear a mask

As you can imagine, the comment section on this TikTok user’s video was… divided, to say the least.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Tourism Minister says international borders will reopen by Christmas “at the latest”

by Ali Coulton

Dan Tehan has urged states to stick to the national plan and encouraged Aussies to “roll up their sleeves”.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

IHG’s Leanne Harwood elected first-ever female president of the Accommodation Association

Hospo industry veteran Leanne Harwood is back in the headlines, and this time it’s about her very deserving new role.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Passenger claims flight attendant told her to glue a mask to her distressed toddler’s face

A mother has taken to social media to call out a flight attendant who she claims gave her a rather distressing ultimatum.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Strong take-up of AFTA membership continues

If the current demand for AFTA membership is anything to go by, there’s a lot of confidence that agents can clear the remaining pandemic hurdles.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

“This is a moment of real celebration”: Celebrity Edge is finally heading Down Under

The champagne corks are popping and the party pies are in the oven at Celebrity Cruises HQ following this big bit of news.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

New research ranks Sydney and Melbourne among the world’s 10 safest cities

With safety weighing heavily on the minds of many travellers during this time, it seems that Aussies jaunting domestically have lucked out.

Share

CommentComments