RARE HAILSTORM DEVASTATES ISLAND IN VANUATU

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (RNZI, Jan. 1) - Vanuatu’s Emergency and Disaster office says that nearly 3,000 residents of southern Tanna will need food and shelter because of a devastating hail storm, which destroyed over 50 percent of their food gardens Sunday night.

Damage reports say that the hailstorm also triggered up to 1,000 landslides, and destroyed up to 80 percent of all road crossings on the densely populated island.

Villagers rescued an expatriate couple alive after they were buried in their house by a mudslide.

The meteorological department says that the hail was the size of golf balls and that there was no explanation for the weekend storm.

Lead forecaster, William Worwor says that this is the first time that Vanuatu has seen a hailstorm.

"It's totally unexpected, it's our rainy season and I don’t know that there is a hailstorm being observed over the southern islands or any part of the Vanuatu group," said Worwor.

"It is not normal and it's unusual for a hailstorm to fall over any of the islands of Vanuatu but you never know and also the climate is changing so there is a possibility that hailstorms be observed in Vanuatu. "

Radio New Zealand International reports that Torba province in the northern part of the country was battered with devastating waves triggered by Cyclone Zoe.

The report adds that Giant waves advanced 200 meters inland destroying villages.

No casualties have been reported.

January 1, 2002

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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