Tropical Cyclone Harold has increased to a monster category 5 cyclone with sustained winds close to its centre of 215km/h according to the Vanuatu Meteorology service.

The system is moving slowly in a north north-easterly direction at 7km and extreme weather will be felt in parts of the Vanuatu group as the system continues to move closer.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazzards Department said maximum sustained winds close to its centre are estimated at 215km/h, with gusts upto to 235km/h.

The National Disaster Management Office said the provinces of Sanma, Penama and Malampa are now on Red Alert while Torba and Shefa are on Yellow Alert.

Sanma, Penama and Malampa Provinces can expect from tonight and continuing tomorrow, damaging gale force winds, destructive storm force winds and hurricane force winds.

Heavy rainfalls and flash flooding over low lying areas and areas close to river banks including coastal flooding is expected these provinces.

The Disaster Management Office has advised people, including sea going vessels, to go out to sea within affected areas until the system has moved out of the area.

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