Vanuatu flights re-start after cyclones, quakes hit nation

BREAKING NEWS 📰

ir Vanuatu added Port Vila-bound services from Nadi (Fiji) and Christchurch (New Zealand) to today’s schedule.

The national carrier said it expects to add more flights, including domestic services, to its schedule in the next 24 hours.

“We understand everyone is very keen to travel and get home and we are doing all we can to get flights operational,” Air Vanuatu stated.

The airline said passengers should check a dedicated page on its website for regular flight updates.

 

VTO cautiously optimistic

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) said that it remains upbeat on the situation.

“Initial reports out of Vanuatu following Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin last week are positive,” VTO told Karryon in an email.

“We are hearing that most tourism operators on Efate and Santo will be fully operational in just a few days, only needing to tidy up gardens and some outdoor areas following the weather events.

“The Vanuatu Tourism Office is working closely with operators and partner agencies on the ground to provide a more detailed update as soon as possible.”

Two cyclones, followed by two quakes

The Vanuatu Government declared a State of Emergency after two earthquakes and two cyclones struck Vanuatu between Wednesday and late Friday/early Saturday.

According to the ABC, Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin caused widespread damage and flooding to parts of the Pacific island nation, forcing hundreds of people into emergency evacuation centres in the capital Port Vila.

Following the category four storms, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck 90km from Luganville on Espiritu Santo at 5am on Friday morning and a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck 114km from the city at 6.30am.

So far, there have been no reports of any casualties.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Smartraveller website, most of Port Vila remains without power, but communications and water are gradually being restored.

It urges concerned Australians to contact the Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 in Australia or +61 2 6261 3305 outside of Australia.

 

Telstra said all calls to Vanuatu from Telstra home phones, post-paid and pre-paid mobiles would be free until 11:59pm (AEDT) on 19 March 2023.

“Please keep in mind when making calls that telecommunications infrastructure in Vanuatu has been impacted in some places by the recent cyclones,” it added.

UNICEF’s Eric Durpaire compared the devastation to a “car crash – first there is the big shock, then long-term problems come afterwards”.

“It’s crazy, Vanuatu is used to natural disasters, but I think this is the first time it has had two cyclones back to back,” he told AFP.

“After the aerial assessment reports and evaluations on the ground, we will be able to declare the disaster areas in the places that have been severely damaged.”

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