Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cyclone Pam leaves trail of destruction in Pacific's Vanuatu

A huge tropical cyclone smashed into Vanuatu in the South Pacific, terrifying residents and leaving "complete devastation" with fears on Saturday that dozens of people may have died.

The full extent of the damage is unknown, with limited communications in place after maximum category five storm Cyclone Pam slammed directly into the island country with winds up to 330 kilometres (205 miles) an hour overnight.

"We could see some loss of life, potentially serious loss but we don't know yet," Sune Gudnitz, who heads the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Pacific, said.

"The feedback is that there appears to be quite widespread devastation. There is debris in the streets and widespread flooding."

The UN had unconfirmed reports of 44 people killed in one province. Save the Children's Tom Skirrow, speaking from the capital Port Vila, 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," he said, adding that aid agencies faced a massive challenge.

Aid worker Chloe Morrison said she had spent the night in the capital Port Vila bunkering down in fear.

"There are reports from our other colleagues of entire villages being literally blown away overnight," she told Australian Associated Press.

"Local houses and leaf huts would have been picked up like confetti last night."

Unicef spokeswoman Alice Clements described the cyclone, as "15-30 minutes of absolute terror" for "everybody in this country" as it passed over.

"We have some very unconfirmed reports of casualties from the outer islands as well but we're waiting to get official confirmation on those, which is very sad news if it's true," she told Radio New Zealand.

The storm crossed the main Vanuatu island, home to more than 65,000, and a group of islands further south where 33,000 people live.

Red Cross Pacific regional head Aurelia Balpe told AFP that islanders packed into caves and other makeshift shelters as they resorted to "traditional coping strategies".

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which has been monitoring the storm, said most parts of Vanuatu had been affected.

The storm reportedly changed course at the last minute, passing closer to Port Vila than expected.

During the night, the administrator of the Humans of Vanuatu Facebook page wrote: "It's really bad out there. The wind is howling with a deep roar that just doesn't let up. Anyone not in shelter now is in mortal danger."

"The news reports that a communications tower on Ambrym island has fallen down. There seem to have been fatalities, but of course it's impossible to confirm just now."

Power was out in much of Vanuatu and communications were cut, although aid agency Save the Children said Pam "is feared to have caused widespread damage" and it was preparing to mount a humanitarian response.

The Red Cross was also assessing what was required in terms of food, medicine and shelter.

Aid agencies hoped to be able to start flying in emergency supplies of food, shelter and medicine from Sunday when the airport in Port Vila is expected to reopen.

Meanwhile the Vanuatu Meteorological Service has forecast "very destructive" hurricane-force winds, torrential rain and flash flooding for most of Saturday.

Fiji Weather Service meteorologist Neville Koop said the cyclone was weakening as it slowly moved away from Vanuatu, and would pass between Fiji and New Caledonia before brushing the North Island of New Zealand on Monday.

Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop said that Canberra was ready to assist Vanuatu, and had medical and search and rescue staff on standby.

"We would be prepared to send people in, if and when required," she said.



  1. Death toll after Cyclone Pam expected to rise...

    At least eight people have been confirmed dead after a cyclone devastated the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, according to a senior aid agency official.

    Another 20 had been confirmed injured.

    Winds of up to 340km/h ripped metal roofs off houses and downed trees as relief agencies braced for a major rescue operation and unconfirmed reports said dozens had died...........

  2. Violent cyclone au Vanuatu: premier bilan "plutôt rassurant"...

    Un très violent cyclone tropical a frappé l'archipel de Vanuatu, dans le Pacifique Sud. Il n'aurait cependant pas engendré de dégâts majeurs et le premier bilan est "plutôt rassurant", selon la sécurité civile de l'archipel. Cependant, selon des informations encore partielles ce samedi, le bilan ferait état d'une dizaine de morts et d'énormes destructions...............

  3. 'Complete devastation' after cyclone hits island nation of Vanuatu...

    Super Cyclone Pam left a trail of "complete devastation" after it smashed into the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Friday, aids groups said, amid fears that the storm may prove to be one of the region's worst-ever weather disasters.

    The maximum category five storm slammed directly into the island with gusts of up to 320 kilometres (200 miles) an hour.

    "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," said Save the Children's Tom Skirrow, speaking from the capital of Port Vila.

    The full extent of the damage remained unknown on Saturday due to the limited communications networks in place on the island, but the UN has received unconfirmed reports of 44 people killed in one province alone................

  4. Unicef: Zyklon "Pam" richtet verheerende Verwüstung an...

    Zyklon "Pam" hat im Pazifik-Staat Vanuatu nach Angaben des UNO-Kinderhilfswerks Unicef verheerende Verwüstungen angerichtet."Es ist noch zu früh, dies mit Sicherheit zu sagen, aber die ersten Berichte lassen vermuten, dass diese Wetterkatastrophe die schlimmste sein könnte, die diese Pazifikregion je getroffen hat," meinte Unicef-Neuseeland-Direktorin Vivien Maidaborn am Samstag.

    "Es ist klar, dass die volle Wucht des Super-Zyklons (die Inseln) deutlich schlimmer getroffen hat als vorhergesagt", berichtete Unicef-Sprecherin Alice Clements aus der Hauptstadt Port Vila."Dies ist mit Sicherheit eine Katastrophe für die Einwohner." Die Sturmböen hätten in ihrem dreistöckigen Hotel die Schiebetüren aus der Verankerung gerissen. "Es war Furcht einflößend", sagte sie.

    "Pam" ist ein Zyklon der gefährlichsten Kategorie 5. Er war mit Windgeschwindigkeiten von mehr als 300 Kilometern in der Stunde über die Hauptinsel Vanuatus mit 65.000 Einwohnern gezogen. In der Schneise des Wirbelsturms Richtung Süden wohnten weitere 32.000 Menschen.

  5. Vanuatu president calls for help after cyclone destruction...

    Vanuatu's President Baldwin Lonsdale has called for international help after Cyclone Pam ripped through the Pacific archipelago.

    Describing it as a "calamity", he said he spoke with a "heavy heart".

    Aid agencies say the cyclone, which veered off its expected course on Saturday and struck populated areas, has caused "complete devastation".

    Save the Children says eight people are confirmed dead but it is feared dozens more may have been killed.

    Many residents are spending a second night in emergency shelters after finding their homes destroyed.

    Mr Lonsdale was speaking in Japan at the UN's World Conference on Disaster Risk and Reduction.

    "I stand to appeal on behalf of the government and the people of Vanuatu that the global community give a lending hand in responding to these very current calamities...that have struck us," he said.............

  6. Cyclone Pam : les premiers secours attendus dimanche...

    Une réunion de coordination a eu lieu ce samedi à Nouméa. Les premiers secours sont attendus dimanche. Hasard du calendrier, la communauté internationale est aussi réunie ce samedi au Japon pour mieux prévenir les catastrophes naturelles.

    Fauteuils de jardinTrouvez le meilleur des fauteuils de jardin !
    Je craque

    Comment aider l'archipel Vanuatu, durement frappé par Pam, un des cyclones les plus violent de l'histoire ? C'était l'objet d'une réunion de coordination qui a eu lieu samedi à Nouméa pour anticiper l'envoi de secours au Vanuatu a indiqué le haut-commissariat de la République. «Il s'agissait de faire un état des lieux de nos capacités et des dispositions à prendre pour intervenir, dès lors que le gouvernement du Vanuatu sollicitera officiellement l'aide de la France», a déclaré Paul-Marie Claudon, directeur de cabinet du haut-commissaire. Les forces armées en Nouvelle-Calédonie, la Croix-Rouge ainsi que les consulats d'Australie et de Nouvelle-Zélande ont participé à cette réunion. L'Australie s'est en effet dite prête à participer immédiatement aux secours..............

  7. Vanuatu cyclone: First aid reaches islands ravaged by Pam...

    Aid is beginning to arrive in Vanuatu after the Pacific island nation was hit by a cyclone which President Baldwin Lonsdale described as a "monster".

    Air force planes arrived with supplies from Australia and New Zealand, and other countries have pledged to help.

    Aerial images of the capital Port Vila show many houses completely flattened.

    A communications blackout means little is known about conditions beyond the capital but a pilot saw similar devastation in outlying islands.

    His voice breaking, President Lonsdale told the BBC that Cyclone Pam had destroyed most buildings in Port Vila, including schools and clinics.

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

  8. Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu relief teams reach damaged islands...

    Outlying areas of Vanuatu hit by Cyclone Pam suffered "significantly worse" damage than the island nation's capital, 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 200 kilometres 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," Mr Perry told AFP news agency.................


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