New Caledonia braces for arrival of Cyclone Donna

Winds are getting stronger in New Caledonia as the centre of Cyclone Donna is expected to hit the Loyalty Islands late this afternoon.

The category three system is on track to hit the island of Ouvea with very destructive winds.

A level two alert has been in force for Ouvea and Lifou as well as coastal areas of the main island, which means that people have to be inside their homes or in shelters.

The maximum alert will be extended to the rest of the east coast and to the island of Mare at 5pm today.

Authorities have shut down the water supply in Hienghene, Poindimie and Canala to protect those communities from storm contamination.

Reports say eight mobile phone transmitters have stopped working along the east coast.

The curfew declared last night has meanwhile been lifted on the western side of the main island as the storm system with winds gusting to 230 km/h is approaching the Loyalty Islands.

The cyclone is then forecast to pass between Mare and the southern tip of the main island while it is continuing to weaken.

The south of the main island as well as the Isle of Pines are on alert level one, which means residents are advised to take all the standard precautions.

Businesses and schools are closed, and bus services have been suspended.