8 Feb 2012

Cyclone Jasmine puts southern Vanuatu on red alert

4:07 pm on 8 February 2012

The Vanuatu Disaster Management Office has issued a red alert for the southern Tafea province as severe tropical cyclone Jasmine passes close by.

The cyclone, a category 3, has winds of up to 165 kilometres an hour at its centre.

It is just over 100 kilometres to the west of Tanna, and as it moves in an east southeasterly direction, it is expected to weaken.

The Disaster Management Office's Shadrack Welegtabit says the alert is to ensure people seek shelter because the storm is likely to bring very strong winds.

"It will not be the centre of the cyclone. It will be the hurricane force winds around the centre of the cyclone, but it could go up to 110 to 140 kilometres per hour."

The Vanuatu Disaster Management Office's Shadrack Welegtabit says they have not yet received any reports of damage from the cyclone and assessments of the southern islands will be made tomorrow.

A second cyclone, the category one Cyril, which yesterday put Tonga and Niue on alert, is also weakening as it moves away far to the south of the Cook Islands.