OCHA Flash Update on Tropical Cyclone Lusi in Vanuatu (11 March)

Tropical Cyclone Lusi is located about 30 km west-northwest of Ambrym (population 7,275) and 70 km southeast of Malekula (22,902), and moving 12 km/h in a south-southeast direction.

The cyclone strengthened to a Category 2 system this afternoon with sustained winds of 95 km/h and momentary gusts of 140 km/h. Cyclone warnings remain in place for Penama (30,819), Malampa (36,727) and Shefa (78,723) Provinces. The system is expected to intensify to a Category 3 cyclone midday tomorrow as it heads away from Vanuatu.

Initial reports confirm one fatality in Pentecost and an estimated 40,000 people affected. Many houses have been damaged, particularly traditional structures made of local materials, with an unknown number of people sheltering in evacuation centres. Approximately 30 residents from the Pepsi area in Luganville were evacuated due to flooding. Staple crops and fruit-bearing trees have been destroyed, including breadfruit, cassava and banana.

The National Disaster Management Office is leading the response and is in regular contact with Provincial Government representatives. The National Emergency Operations Centre and Joint Planning Operations Centre have been activated, and meetings are being held with Government and humanitarian partners to coordinate the response. Warnings continue to be issued over local radio and via a short-code messaging alert system. The main mobile phone networks remain operational, except one network in Torba Province.

In the Solomon Islands, a heavy rain warning is current for Temotu, Makira, Rennell and Bellona Provinces. In Fiji, a tropical cyclone alert is in force for the Yasawa and Mamanuca group, western half of Viti Levu, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands. Although the cyclone is not expected to make landfall in Fiji, the system will bring heavy rain, strong winds and high swells, with flash flooding likely.

This is the second OCHA Flash Update on Tropical Cyclone (TC) Lusi in Vanuatu. The next update will be issued tomorrow 12 March.