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Outlying areas of Vanuatu suffered significantly worse damage than capital Port Vila after the South Pacific archipelago was hit by Cyclone Pam over the weekend, aid workers have reported.

Teams carrying medical supplies, food, water and shelter equipment landed on the outer islands of Tanna and Erromango, agencies said.

Getting aid to the islands has proven difficult because of a lack of landing strips or deepwater ports.

Eleven people have died, the UN said, revising down an earlier toll of 24.


Tanna island has a population of about 30,000 people and is about 125 miles south of the capital Port Vila. It was directly in the path of the cyclone.

Tom Perry from Care Australia said relief workers in Tanna reported the hospital was functioning but had no roof.

“The impression they got from their initial observations was that the damage is significantly worse than Port Vila,” Tom Perry told AFP news agency.Cyclone Pam Vanuatu aftermath

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said military planes flown over the islands had reported major damage to houses and crops.

“We understand that the reconnaissance imagery shows widespread devastation,” Julie Bishop said of Tanna.

“Not only buildings flattened – palm plantations, trees. It’s quite a devastating sight.”

Communication to many of the other 80 islands in the archipelago are still down and officials have warned survivors could quickly run out of food.

Aurelia Balpe, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for the Pacific, says the Vanuatu government is coordinating assessment and aid, including flights to other islands.

Aid agencies have organized themselves in clusters to better co-ordinate help, but getting to islands is not easy.

“There are difficulties in understanding how large a plane can land on some islands. In many of these small islands, they don’t have ports that can handle large vessels. In some places we may need to construct landing places for planes and boats,” she said.

Many smaller boats in Port Vila were damaged by the storm, and the distance is a challenge.

“It’s about 150km from Port Vila to the island of Erromango – which would take at least four hours in a small boat – and another 80km from Erromango to Tanna,” Aurelia Balpe said.

Poor weather and rough seas are also an issue.

“The first couple of days were very difficult because of the cyclone, and even now there are really bad swells and storm surges,” Aurelia Balpe said.

Cyclone Pam, a category five tropical storm, hit Vanuatu on March 14, bringing very high winds.

Across the Pacific nation, many people have lost their homes or face extensive rebuilding. Telecommunications, power and water supplies have all been badly affected.

In Port Vila a clean-up is under way but the destruction was extensive. Power and water have been restored in some areas but up to 90% of homes have been damaged.

The hospital is coping with an influx of injured people but a surgeon said beds had been moved outside because of structural damage.

On the main island and in the provinces of Torba and Penama to the north, some 3,300 people were in evacuation shelters, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale, returning from a conference in Japan, has described the storm as a “monster” that wiped out years of development.

He has linked the disaster to climate change, citing changing weather patterns, rising seas and heavier-than-average rain in Vanuatu.

Australia announced on March 17 that it was sending more personnel, including a search and rescue team, and three more military planes carrying aid.

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Twenty four people have died and 3,300 are displaced after Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu archipelago, the UN says.

The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team in the capital, Port Vila, said 37 evacuation centers had been set up, but communication with outer islands was still down.

President Baldwin Lonsdale said the storm had “wiped out” all development of recent years.

He called again for international aid.Vanuatu Cyclone Pam disaster

Of those who died, 11 were from Tafea island, eight from the main island, Efate, and five from Tanna.

The evacuation centers were catering for the many people who had lost their homes, the UN said, adding that the response effort was for now focusing on the capital and Efate.

After aerial assessments of the damage caused by the storm, Shefa remained the only province declared an emergency, the UN said.

Aid began arriving in Vanuatu – one of the world’s poorest countries – after flights to Port Vila resumed.

Tropical Cyclone Pam is slowly weakening as it travels towards New Zealand and poses no further threat to Vanuatu or the South Pacific, a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says.

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Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale has appealed for an “immediate” help after Cyclone Pam devastated the tiny country over the weekend.

Baldwin Lonsdale said Cyclone Pam, a category 5 tropical storm, had “wiped out” all development of recent years and his country would have to rebuild “everything”.

Aid has begun arriving in Vanuatu – one of the world’s poorest – but contact has still not been made with some of its more remote islands.

Aid agencies say it could be one of the worst disasters ever to hit the region.

Photo Xinhua Agency

Photo Xinhua Agency

The official death toll stands at eight, but it is expected to rise.

The sense of devastation is absolutely immense and when you land it doesn’t take long for that sense of devastation to increase.

Many family homes have been stripped of their roofs or flattened by very powerful winds and torrential rain.

The air here is very thick with smoke because the cleanup has already begun – the debris is being chopped down, collected and burned. There is a sense here that people will rebuild but it only takes a brief moment in the capital to realize that this rebuilding effort will take many months if not years.

Vanuatu is a vast archipelago in the South Pacific with its population spread over more than 60 islands.

As the country’s communications are down, it is very difficult for the authorities to have a true picture of the devastation but it’s clear the number of dead will increase when communications are made with those outlying areas.

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According to the UN, the South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu is one of world’s least developed countries.

Vanuatu has a GDP of $828 million compared to neighboring Australia’s $1.56 trillion, according to the World Bank.Vanuatu poor country

About two-thirds of Vanuatu’s population makes a living from agriculture. Fishing, tourism and offshore financial services are the other main industries.

Australia estimates that about 70% of Vanuatu’s population of 250,000 people lives on remote islands or in rural areas, with few services and limited access to clean drinking water, transport or electricity.

Australia is Vanuatu’s main donor, giving A$60.7 million ($46.5 million) in 2013-2014, about 60% of total aid.

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Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Lonsdale says that Cyclone Pam has “wiped out” development in his country amid ongoing concern over residents of the Pacific nation’s outlying islands.

Aid has begun arriving in storm-hit Vanuatu – one of the world’s poorest – where trees and power lines have been felled and many buildings destroyed.

Aid agencies say it could be one of the worst disasters ever to hit the region.

The situation on some remote islands closer to the eye of the storm is not yet known as communications are down.

Almost every house in Vanuatu has received some damage.

Aerial images of the capital show houses completely flattened.

The official death toll is eight, but this is expected to rise as rescuers reach more the remote islands.Cyclone Pam Vanuatu devastation

Speaking in Japan where he had been attending an international conference on disaster preparedness, President Baldwin Lonsdale called the storm “devastating”.

“I term it as a monster, a monster – it’s a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu,” he said.

“After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out.”

Baldwin Lonsdale also said he had not been able to confirm that his own family was safe.

“As the leader of the nation, my whole heart is for the people, the nation.”

The president said climate change had contributed to the disaster, saying Vanuatu had seen changing weather patterns, rising seas and heavier-than-average rain.

Cyclone Pam, a category five storm, with winds of up to 185mph, struck populated areas when it reached Vanuatu early on Saturday, March 14.

It is now moving down the east coast of New Zealand. The storm has weakened significantly but about 100 people have been evacuated from coastal areas in Gisbourne, on the east of the North Island. An alert is also in place in the Chatham Islands, about 425 miles south-east of Wellington.

UNICEF worker Alice Clements in Port Vila said all the power lines were down, and many staff of the capital’s only hospital were unable to get in to work.

There is major concern about islands to the south, including Tanna, which was in the direct path of the storm. The Australian Red Cross tweeted that it had heard of “utter devastation” there.

Paolo Malatu, co-ordinator for the National Disaster Management Office, told the Associated Press news agency that planes and helicopters had been sent to fly over the islands and assess the situation.

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Cyclone Pam had destroyed most buildings in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, including schools and clinics, said President Baldwin Lonsdale.

A state of emergency has been declared in the tiny Pacific state of 267,000 people, spread over 65 islands.

At least eight people are reported to have been killed.

However, it is feared the toll will rise sharply as rescuers reach outlying islands.

Thousands of people spent a second night in shelters.

Cyclone Pam, with winds of up to 170mph, veered off its expected course and struck populated areas when it reached Vanuatu early on March 14.

The authorities in Vanuatu are struggling to gauge the extent of the damage across the country because communications are down and fallen power lines and trees have blocked roads.Cyclone Pam Vanuatu state of emergency

Meanwhile, the first deliveries of aid have arrived on air force planes from New Zealand and Australia.

The UK, France, UN and European Union have also promised help.

A UN disaster assessment team is due to arrive in Vanuatu in the coming hours.

Chloe Morrison, an emergency communications officer with World Vision in Port Vila, said residents had woken to much calmer weather on March 15.

She said it would have been a “very, very tough time” for anyone not in a secure shelter during the cyclone.

Speaking from Japan, President Baldwin Lonsdale made an impassioned plea for international help earlier.

“I am speaking to you today with a heart that is so heavy,” he said at the UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

“I stand to appeal on behalf of the government and the people to give a helping hand in this disaster.”

The extent of the devastation is unlikely to be known for several days, said Tom Skirrow, Save the Children’s Vanuatu country director.

Unconfirmed reports on March 14 said 44 people had died in Penama province in the north-east of Vanuatu, according to the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA).

Cyclone Pam had already caused major damage on other Pacific islands, including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

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Cyclone Pam has hit the south Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu leaving “complete devastation” in its wake, aid agencies say.

Houses in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, were destroyed and “people are wandering the streets looking for help”, said Tom Skirrow of Save the Children.

Tom Skirrow said eight people were confirmed dead, but UN agencies say dozens may have been killed.

Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Londsdale said he had a “heavy heart” and appealed for aid.

Cyclone Pam has brought winds of up to 170mph and torrential rain.Cyclone Pam devastates Vanuatu archipelago

Chloe Morrison, an emergency communications officer with World Vision who is in Port Vila, said on March 14 that streets were littered with roofing, uprooted trees and toppled power lines.

She said there were reports of entire villages in remote areas being destroyed.

“It’s still really quite dangerous outside. Most people are still hunkering down,” Chloe Morrison said.

“The damage is quite extensive in Port Vila but there are so many more vulnerable islands. I can’t even imagine what it’s like in those vulnerable communities.”

Tom Skirrow said: “The scene here this morning is complete devastation – houses are destroyed, trees are down, roads are blocked and people are wandering the streets looking for help.

“Communications are down across much of the country with the total extent of the devastation unlikely to be known for several days.”

UNICEF spokeswoman Alice Clements described the cyclone as “15-30 minutes of absolute terror” as it passed over Port Vila.

“I saw the sliding doors from my three-storey-hotel room completely blow away – it was terrifying,” she said.

UNICEF in New Zealand warned that Cyclone Pam could be one of the worst ever weather disasters for the region.

“While it is too early to say for certain, early reports are indicating that this weather disaster could potentially be one of the worst in Pacific history,” New Zealand executive director Vivien Maidaborn said in a statement.

Vanuatu’s President Baldwin Londsdale was attending the World Conference on Disaster Risk and Reduction in Japan, where he appealed for international support.

“I am speaking with you today with a heart that is so heavy,” he said.

“I stand to appeal on behalf of the government and people of Vanuatu to the global community to give a lending hand.”

Unconfirmed reports said that 44 people had died in Penama province in the north-east of Vanuatu, the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) said earlier in a statement.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the country was preparing to send a crisis response team to Vanuatu if needed.

Although thousands of people spent the night in emergency shelters, many more were forced to ride out the storm in their own homes.

All six provinces of Vanuatu have been under red alert, meaning people are advised to immediately seek shelter.

Located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital, Port Vila.

Cyclone Pam, a category five tropical storm, had already caused major damage on other Pacific islands, including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

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Dozens of people are feared dead in the South Pacific after Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, the UN’s relief agency says.

Cyclone Pam, a category 5 tropical storm, battered Vanuatu with winds of up to 170mph on March 13.

Authorities on the islands had earlier issued a red alert to residents after the cyclone changed direction and began moving towards populated areas.

Cyclone Pam has already caused major damage on other Pacific islands, including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

Tuvalu, a group of nine tiny islands north-east of Vanuatu, has also declared a state of emergency after the cyclone caused flash floods there.Cyclone Pam Vanuatu

“The immediate concern is for a very high death toll but also an enormous amount of destruction and devastation,” Sune Gudnitz, regional director for the UNOCHA, told Reuters news agency from nearby Fiji, which is also expecting to be hit by Cyclone Pam.

There were unconfirmed reports that 44 people had died in Penama province in the north-east of Vanuata, the UNOCHA said in a statement on March 13, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, category three Cyclone Olwyn has hit the coast of Western Australia with wind gusts of up to 120mph.

People in the state’s coastal region were warned to move to higher ground to escape dangerous flooding.

Cyclone Pam destroyed homes and flooded crop areas in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands before moving on to Vanuatu and Tuvalu. At least 3,000 households were said to have been affected.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Services (VMS) said it expected torrential rainfall, flash flooding, landslides and storm surges.

All six provinces are under red alert, meaning people are advised to immediately head to shelter.

Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office spokesperson Mishaen Garae Lulu told Radio New Zealand that the government had lost contact with some parts of the northern provinces.

Mishaen Garae Lulu said Cyclone Pam was expected to be worse than Cyclone Uma, which killed 50 people in 1987.

Located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii, Vanuatu has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands. About 47,000 people live in the capital, Port Vila.

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Cyclone Pam, a category five tropical storm, has hit Vanuatu after causing destruction in several South Pacific nations.

Flash floods and strong winds have hit Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, causing significant damage.

Vanuatu has issued a red alert nationwide.

Cyclone Pam has reached its north and was expected to felt in the capital, Port Vila, on Friday night.

There have been no casualties or loss of life reported yet.

Meanwhile, category three Cyclone Olwyn has hit the coast of Western Australia with wind gusts of up to 120mph.

People in the WA coastal region were warned to move to higher ground to escape dangerous flooding.Cyclone Pam South Pacific

Cyclone Pam has already caused flash floods in Tuvalu, which has declared a state of emergency.

The storm destroyed homes and flooded crop areas in Kiribati and the Solomon Islands, where at least 3,000 households have been affected.

The Vanuatu Meteorological Services (VMS) said that at 18:00 local time Cyclone Pam was 65 miles north-northeast of Port Vila and packing strong winds of 142mph at its centre.

All six provinces are now under red alert, meaning people are advised to immediately head to shelter.

VMS said “very destructive winds and very rough to phenomenal seas with heavy swells” were already hitting the region, while torrential rainfall, flash flooding, landslides and storm surges were expected.

Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office spokesperson Mishaen Garae Lulu told Radio New Zealand that the government had lost contact with some parts of the northern provinces.

He said the cyclone was expected to be worse than Cyclone Uma which killed 50 people in 1987.

Port Vila, was expected to escape the worst of the cyclone but people were being advised to move away from rivers and the sea.

The Vanuatu country director for Save the Children, Tom Skirrow, told AFP he was concerned about families living in shanty town areas.

“Thousands of families are living in makeshift, flimsy houses which will not withstand the immense winds and rain we’re expecting. Families need to urgently evacuate to safe buildings or the results could be catastrophic.”

Cyclone Pam is expected to weaken as it moves southwards just off the east coast of the island chain, which has a population of about 246,000.

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Vanuatu: Major earthquake struck Pacific island nation of Vanuatu

US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 7.5 earthquake at 3:55 a.m. on Sunday (12:55 p.m. EDT on Saturday centered 38 miles southwest of Port-Vila (capital town) at a depth of 25.2 miles, followed by a magnitude 5.9 aftershock 20 minutes later. This erathquake had not triggered a Pacific-wide tsunami, saidThe Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The Vanuatu archipelago is located on the “Ring of Fire,” one of the most seismically active regions in the world.

Vanuatu

The Vanuatu archipelago is part of the "Ring of Fire," one of the world most seismically active region.