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Powerful Category 4 Cyclone Harold on track to hit Vanuatu, targets Fiji

Monday, April 6th 2020, 7:30 am - The storm formed on April 1 near Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and has rapidly intensified as it approaches Vanuatu.

Cyclone Harold is going strong as a powerful storm with sustained winds equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane.

As of Sunday evening local time, Harold is moving near northern parts of Vanuatu and has maximum sustained winds of 222 km/h, which rivals a Category 4 hurricane. The storm could further intensify as it moves near Vanuatu over the next 24 hours.

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Vanuatu authorities have declared a red alert in several provinces, urging people to prepare for the storm's arrival. The country has been under a state of emergency since late march due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects Harold will move slowly through the Republic of Vanuatu with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge and could track near Fiji next week.

28 MISSING AFTER FERRY ACCIDENT DURING ROUGH SEAS

According to media reports, 28 people are missing and feared dead after being swept from a ferry in Solomon Islands early Friday morning, as it encountered rough seas caused by Cyclone Harold.

The passengers were swept off a passenger vessel that was travelling from Honiara to West Are Are port in the Malaita province. They were travelling back in a charter as part of COVID-19 contingency plans.

Harold formed on April 1 near Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Weather.com reports 24 ferry passengers are missing amid the rough seas generated by the storm.

'Cyclone' is the name given to a tropical disturbance that forms in the Indian Ocean or South Pacific. Such storms are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and typhoons in the North Pacific, and are formed in the same way, though cyclones rotate clockwise.

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