Melbourne, Australia

Tropical Cyclone Harold lashed the South Pacific island of Vanuatu for a second day on Tuesday, ripping off roofs and downing telecommunications, and was moving towards Fiji where it is expected to slightly weaken.

The powerful cyclone made landfall on Monday in Sana province, an island north of Vanuatu's capital Port Vila, with winds as high as 235 kph knocking out communications overnight, according to reports by the government's disaster and weather bureaus. 

Cyclone Harold Vanuatu damage

Severe damage is pictured in the aftermath of a storm in Pentecost, Vanuatu, on 7th March in this picture obtained from social media. PICTURE: WATAS CELAC /via Reuters

The province of Sana sits on the biggest of Vanuatu's 80 islands and is home to its second-most populous city, Luganville, where photos circulated on social media purported to show buildings flattened by the storm.

The winds blew roofs off houses, tore down trees and destroyed a council building in Luganville, which has a population of 16,000, according to a Radio New Zealand report. 

Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office said in a social media post that officials were expected to survey the area later in the day to assess the damage.

Gusts were expected to drop to 110kph as the system tracks south east away from Vanuatu later on Tuesday, and approaches Fiji, Vanuatu's weather bureau said. 

Fijian authorities issued a tropical cyclone alert for some of its southern islands.

Cyclone Harold is expected to skirt the main island of Viti Levu, coming around 230 kilometres from the main transport hub of Nadi, about 6am on Wednesday, Fiji's weather bureau said. 

The alert was in force for islands further south including Lomaiviti and the Southern Lau Group. A strong wind warning and damaging heavy swell warnings are in place for the country. Fiji's meteorological bureau also warned of the risk of flash floods.