A man from Pentecost was reported to have died after he was hit by a falling black palm tree, as cyclone Hola passes through the country.

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) has also received reports that two other locals on Malekula have sustained minor injuries.

The NDMO has confirmed that Cyclone Hola has caused significant damage to buildings and agricultural crops on Malekula.

Damage caused to other affected islands are considered to be less, however the overall impact will be clear once NDMO issues the ‘all clear ‘ for Vanuatu.

At the moment, NDMO said it is facing communication problems to get reports on the extent of the damage on the affected islands. Reports received so far are from people contacting the office to get updates on the cyclone.

Cyclone Hola has also damaged houses - mostly those with traditional thatch roofs, trees and agricultural crops on other islands in MALAMPA like Ambrym, Penama and the Shepherd Islands, according to NDMO.

Locals on Epi, Paama and Ambae have reported fallen trees and crops in gardens such as banana and pawpaw, continuous rainfall, strong winds and swells along the coast.

Photos uploaded on social media showed a damaged Digicel communication tower at northeast Malekula, and the roof of school buildings at Raon on Ambrym, Ranwadi (Pentecost) and Norsup (Malekula) blown off.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Digicel, Yaser Maher, said despite the damage to the mobile phone tower at northeast Malekula, other towers on the island are still providing enough coverage.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has instructed all schools in SHEFA and MALAMPA to close their doors starting yesterday until NDMO gives the all clear.

TC Hola was upgraded to category 4 by 2pm yesterday and it was positioned at letter E, number 7 on the Vanuatu tropical cyclone map. It is moving in a south southwest direction and is predicted to leave the country’s territory after Friday (today).

Damaging gale force winds and very rough to phenomenal seas and swells will continue to affect SANMA, PENAMA and TAFEA, the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazard Department advised.

“Heavy rainfall, thunderstorm and flash flooding over low lying areas and areas close to river banks including coastal flooding are expected to continue to affect these provinces”.

The NDMO assured it will continue to give out messages to people calling in on what to do during and after a cyclone.

A disaster cluster meeting was held at the NDMO Office yesterday, to plan the response to communities after the cyclone.

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