21 Feb 2011

Cyclone Atu strengthens as it batters Vanuatu

5:40 am on 21 February 2011

Tropical Cyclone Atu has been upgrade to category Four and is now battering Shefa province in Vanuatu, which includes the capital, Port Vila.

Vanuatu's Meteorological Office says destructive storm force winds of 110 kilometers an hour, gusting up 160 kilometres an hour are affecting most of Shefa province.

Gale force winds are still affecting Malampa province but

are expected to subside in the coming hours.

Atu is moving south south east and is expected to begin affecting Tafea province in the next few hours.

The cyclone is still intensifying and very destructive hurricane winds of 165 kilometres an hour gusting up to 235 kilometres an hour are expected in the next 12 to 24 hours.