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Cyclone Irene bearing down on Vanuatu

A warning has been issued in Vanuatu for tropical cyclone Irene.

As of 5am local time, two hours ago, the now category-2 cyclone was about 180km south-south-west of Efate and 170km west-north-west of Tanna.

The Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department said winds close to the centre were estimated at about 80km per hour.

The department said damaging gale force winds of 75km per hour with gusts up to 100km will continue to affect the area within 140 nautical miles north-east from the centre of the system and were expected to affect the provinces of Tafea and Shefa from Thursday night to early morning.

A red alert is also in place for Malampa.

A meteorologist at Meteo-France New Caledonia, Edouard Peleau, said the system is expected to remain at a steady intensity for the next 24 hours.

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