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Save the Children ready to help as Cyclone Harold bears down on Vanuatu

Cyclone Harold is likely to batter Vanuatu tonight and tomorrow with winds of up to 200km/h - and Save The Children says it is ready to offer assistance.

MetService tweeted this afternoon that winds near the centre of the cyclone are reaching 200km/h, with the centre of the storm moving east across the Pacific nation.

In a release, Save The Children CEO Heidi Coetzee said her charity already has staff on the ground in Vanuatu assessing how best they can assist.

"We're expecting that people's houses will be destroyed, their crops will be wiped out, heavy flooding will contaminate their water," Ms Coetzee said.

"It could be an unprecedented humanitarian response."

Tropical Cyclone Harold rapidly intensifies while on track to hit Vanuatu

She said while Vanuatu has not yet had any reported cases of Covid-19, conditions following the cyclone could be ideal for spreading any undiagnosed cases.

"The risk is that if everyone needs to congregate together in shelters or churches, those that unknowingly have Covid-19 will pass it to those close them.

"This could see Covid-19 spread like wildfire through the community.

"Also, with all the stress and trauma caused by the cyclone, domestic violence may see an increase in the weeks following.

"We have relief items in place ready for distribution, including plastic sheeting and ropes for temporary shelter, hygiene kits and jerry cans, as well as education supplies to help get children back to school as quickly as possible."

Cyclone Harold is expected to track towards Fiji after leaving Vanuatu.