14 Mar 2018

Two Vanuatu children drowned in flooded river during Cyclone Hola

4:18 pm on 14 March 2018

Two school children drowned trying to cross a swollen river in Vanuatu on the island of Santo during Cyclone Hola last Friday.

Vanuatu damage - Cyclone Hola

Damage in Vanuatu from Cyclone Hola Photo: Supplied/ NDMO OFFICE

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said the two children were with their mother when they were swept away by the fast moving waters of the river that rose quickly with heavy rain brought by the cyclone.

NDMO Operations Manager Peter Korisa said their mother was unable to save them from the current.

"We only confirm two kids. It was due to rain and they were drowned because of flooding. They were in Santo and they were actually trying to cross the river and because it was raining, there was a lot of rain during TC Hola, so they were with their mother, they were taken away by the strong flood river."

The Daily Post reported the children were trying to cross the Navaka river in south Santo on their way home from school.

One of the children's bodies was found the same day but the other took locals several days to find.

Heavy seas hit a road on Pentecost during Cyclone Hola.

Heavy seas hit a road on Pentecost during Cyclone Hola. Photo: Twitter/ Dan McGarry

Peter Korisa said the NDMO was still waiting on confirmation of a man's death from a falling tree on Pentecost which would bring the Vanuatu death toll to three from Tropical Cyclone Hola.

He said there were rumours of other injuries and possible casualties but he could not confirm any others at this time.

Data gaps delay cyclone aid in Vanuatu

Meanwhile, Mr Korisa said disaster authorities were having trouble collecting data on exactly how many people need aid after Cyclone Hola.

He said relief supplies to Vanuatu's worst-affected northern islands had not yet been sent out to people left homeless and without food crops because the government was still uncertain exactly how many households are in need.

Peter Korisa said aerial assessments had been done and the worst affected areas were northern Malekula, and northern Ambrym where water supplies were contaminated and homes had been destroyed but gaps in data remained.

"We have some problem with data. We don't know exactly the number of people affected. So they are just reporting to us 'these people affected, these people affected' but they are not really giving us how many households in that particular area, affected area.

"We'll base it on the household number and then we will start responding."

Peter Korisa said he hoped the situation would become more clear over the next few days and he hopes relief supplies will be issued by early next week at the latest.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs