Tropical Cyclone Lola has strengthened to a category 5 super cyclone, the Fiji Meteorological Service says.

A category 5 cyclone means average winds will surpass 198km/h.

Residents on Vanuatu’s north-eastern islands were feeling the beginnings of the severe cyclone on Tuesday morning.

Fiji Metservice said parts of Vanuatu would be feeling gale force winds between 63-84 km/h.

Meteorologist Samisoni Waqavakatoga said strong force winds between 89 to 117 km/h would be felt about over Banks Islands about 6pm Tuesday local time.

Waqavakatoga said the eye of Lola was expected to be over Santo Island in the next 24 hours.

“There will be destruction to livelihoods as well as structures, low lying areas could get inundated with (sea) surges, people living in the low-lying areas are the most vulnerable,” Waqavakatoga said.

He said waves at sea were forecast to reach 10 metres and 100mm of rain was forecast over the next 24 hours.

Waqavakatoga said the cyclone’s impact should clear by Thursday night.

Vanuatu Red Cross representative on Santo island Shirley Johnson told Morning Report at 5.30am local time Santo was so far only experiencing some strong winds but said “it takes time for the strong winds to come in”.

On Monday 20 to 30 people from flood prone areas were evacuated, she said.

People in the Banks Islands group in Torba Province and Penama Province were already experiencing very strong wind on Monday, she said.

“They also evacuated people to the evacuation centre just to make sure they’re safe.

“This morning I was not able to reach them, I will try to reach them to hear what the situation is because Monday already they called and they said they were already experiencing very, very strong winds and also they have heavy rain.”

The National Disaster Management Office convened an inter-agency briefing to plan the emergency response.