Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Cyclone Harold Batters Fiji, Tonga Could Be Next

Climate
Cyclone Harold Batters Fiji, Tonga Could Be Next
A building damaged by Cyclone Harold in Vanuatu on April 7, 2020. It has since moved on to Fiji. PHILIPPE CARILLO / AFP via Getty Images

After flattening buildings and cutting communications on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu Monday and Tuesday, Cyclone Harold moved on to batter Fiji Wednesday.


The storm is also expected to reach the island nation of Tonga within days, in a reminder of how vulnerable Pacific nations are to extreme weather events supercharged by the climate crisis and made more dangerous by sea level rise.

"It is unfair that countries on the frontlines of the crisis, like those in the Pacific, are constantly having to bear the brunt of the economic impacts of extreme weather events, that are made worse by carbon pollution in places like Australia," Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Pacific Joseph Moeono-Kolio said in a statement.

In Fiji, the storm struck the largest and most populous island of Viti Levu, home to its capital of Suva. It flattened buildings and caused flooding, The Guardian reported.

"The worst of TC Harold will strike Fiji through this afternoon … Flying debris and floodwaters can be deadly. All Fijians should stay indoors unless directed to evacuate," Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama warned early Wednesday.

Injuries were reported in Suva, according to Reuters, but the storm also cut communication lines.

"We've seen reports of injuries," Vasiti Soko, the director of the National Disaster Management Office, told Reuters by telephone. "As to the number, as well as the intensity, of the injuries, that's yet to be ascertained."

There is discrepancy in the reports of how intense Harold was when it reached Fiji. Reuters reports it was still a Category 5 storm, while The Guardian said it had decreased to a Category 4.

In either case, the storm's arrival was complicated by the need to stem the spread of the new coronavirus.

Fiji is in lockdown and currently has 15 confirmed cases and no deaths, The New York Times reported.

However, the government said on Twitter it had taken measures to prepare for a storm striking during the outbreak.

"Given this virus struck Fiji in cyclone season, we knew from the start we had to weatherproof our Covid-19 containment efforts to the very real possibility of a severe storm striking," the government wrote.

Bainimarama said those measures included virus-proofing shelters.

"Our evacuation centres are safe, they are sanitised and monitored to ensure they do not surpass capacity," he said in a social media post reported by Reuters. "Those under quarantine due to the threat of coronavirus will not mix with others."

There have been no reports of fatalities in the storm, but 10 homes in Suva were destroyed.

Meanwhile, the extent of the damage in Vanuatu is still uncertain, as communications are still down to the hardest-hit islands of Espiritu Santo, Malo and Pentecost, according to The Guardian. It is expected their restoration will bring bad news today.

It is known that northern Vanuatu suffered its worst direct hit from a topical cyclone on record, The Washington Post reported.

Next in the crosshairs is Tonga, where a supermoon and high tide warning for Thursday and Friday could exacerbate the damage, The Guardian reported. The storm is expected to strike the country in 48 hours.

Sun Cable hopes to start construction of the world's largest solar farm in 2023. Sun Cable
A large expanse of Australia's deserted Outback will house the world's largest solar farm and generate enough energy to export power to Singapore, as The Guardian reported.
Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Construction on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric station in 2015. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Tara Lohan

In 1999 a cheering crowd watched as a backhoe breached a hydroelectric dam on Maine's Kennebec River. The effort to help restore native fish populations and the river's health was hailed as a success and ignited a nationwide movement that spurred 1,200 dam removals in two decades.

Read More Show Less

Trending

We pet owners know how much you love your pooch. It's your best friend. It gives you pure happiness and comfort when you're together. But there are times that dogs can be very challenging, especially if they are suffering from a certain ailment. As a dog owner, all you want to do is ease whatever pain or discomfort your best friend is feeling.

Read More Show Less
A new study has revealed that Earth's biggest mass extinction was triggered by volcanic activity that led to ocean acidification. Illustration by Dawid Adam Iurino (PaleoFactory, Sapienza University of Rome) for Jurikova et al (2020)

The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.

Read More Show Less
Coronavirus-sniffing dogs Miina and Kössi (R) are seen in Vantaa, Finland on September 2, 2020. Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva / AFP/ Getty Images

By Teri Schultz

Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.

Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch