World

Small Pacific nation of Vanuatu urges people to take shelter as Category-5 Cyclone Pam nears

  • In this photo provided by non-governmental organization 350.org, debris is scattered over a building in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

    In this photo provided by non-governmental organization 350.org, debris is scattered over a building in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by non-profit organization 350.org,  a woman, left, and man gather items in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.  Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

    In this photo provided by non-profit organization 350.org, a woman, left, and man gather items in Port Vila, Vanuatu, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo provided by non-governmental organization 350.org,  people gather on a street in Port Vila, Vanuatu, early Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES

    In this photo provided by non-governmental organization 350.org, people gather on a street in Port Vila, Vanuatu, early Saturday, March 14, 2015, in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Winds from the extremely powerful cyclone that blew through the Pacific's Vanuatu archipelago are beginning to subside, revealing widespread destruction. (AP Photo/350.org, Isso Nihemi ) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

The small Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu is urging people to take shelter as it braces for Cyclone Pam, which is expected to graze the islands with winds of 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour.

Authorities fear the category-5 cyclone will destroy homes and cause severe flooding. The full impact is expected to be felt in the capital Port Vila late Friday.

The cyclone has already caused damage to other Pacific islands including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department Acting Director David Gibson says Pam is packing maximum sustained winds of 230 kph at its center, which is expected to pass just east of the capital.

Located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands.