New Caledonia Bracing For Cyclone Cook

It will be the first to directly hit New Caledonia since 2003, Red Coss on standby

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 11, 2017) – People in northern New Caledonia have been ordered inside and are banned from moving about as Cyclone Cook bears down on the territory.

Tropical Cyclone Cook is forecast to intensify to a category 4 storm when it hits later today.

The cyclone caused flooding in Vanuatu's central islands yesterday and is now set to hit New Caledonia's main island.

It will be the first to directly hit New Caledonia since 2003.

Parts of the main island of Grand Terre and the Loyalty Islands started feeling the effects of Cook this morning, and reports said power was out on Lifou.

The level two alert was raised in northern province this morning meaning people have to take shelter and stop moving about.

For New Caledonia's south, which includes the capital Noumea, a level-one alert came into force at midday and a level-two alert is planned for 8pm.

The storm's centre is forecast to pass to the west of the Loyalty Islands, before making landfall on the east coast of the main island Grand Terre.

Meteo France said the threat was very serious, forecasting gusts of up 200 kilometres an hour.

Rain fall of 350 millimetres is predicted for a 24-hour period.

All domestic flights have been cancelled for today and tomorrow.

The adverse weather conditions in New Caledonia have prompted the French education ministry to cancel some exams nationwide because it is unsafe for those in the territory to go their tests.

Red Cross in Vanuatu on standby

Vanuatu Red Cross volunteers are heading out today to check on damage and people's needs after Cyclone Cook hit.

Red Cross spokesperson in Port Vila Dickinson Tevi said 690 people had moved to 16 evacuation centres yesterday evening.

He said the sudden upgrade from tropical depression to cyclone caused some confusion and he could hear people hammering during the night in preparation.

Mr Tevi said the Red Cross was on standby with supplies.

"In the few places that I have been around I can see banana trees are down. There's no sign of like damage to the buildings but we don't know whether people have been affected with the heavy rain. Even [at] the Red Cross we had to come in at the weekend and sweep the water out."

Radio New Zealand International
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