11 Jan 2016

Vanuatu given all clear as Cyclone Ula moves south

11:19 am on 11 January 2016

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office has given the all clear for the Tafea province, as Cyclone Ula continues to move to the south of the group.

Map tracking Cyclone Ula

Map tracking Cyclone Ula Photo: Vanuatu Met Service

The NDMO says seas will remain rough to very rough over southern waters with heavy swells expected.

The category four cyclone is about 200 kilometres south of Aneityum and 285 kilometres south southeast of Tanna.

It's moving at a speed of 14 kilometres per hour away to the south, and winds close to the centre are still at around 165 kilometres per hour.

The Vanuatu Metservice says strong winds of 45 to 55 kilometres per hour will continue to affect Aneityum island today and should slowly decrease as the cyclone moves away.

New Caledonia has lifted its cyclone alert for the island of Mare.

Damage minimal

Informal reports from Vanuatu's southernmost islands suggest Cyclone Ula has caused minimal damage.

Oxfam's Vanuatu director Colin Collett van Rooyen says there are reports of flooding and damage to crops and vegetable gardens.

Ula strengthened to a category four cyclone as it veered towards Vanuatu's Tafea province at the weekend.

Disaster authorities have given the all clear for the province as Ula continues to move to the south of the group.

They are meeting this morning to determine the extent of damage.

Ula has followed an erratic path since it formed late last month near American Samoa.

It passed between Tonga and Fiji in the first day of the new year before strengthening to category four system off Vanuatu at the weekend.