Fears Dozens Killed By Powerful Cyclone Pam
Powerful winds from Cyclone Pam have caused widespread destruction in the Vanuatu islands with unconfirmed reports saying dozens of people have died.
The Category Fire storm struck the South Pacific archipelago with winds of up to 167mph, threatening more than 267,000 residents.
The storm blew roofs off houses, uprooted trees and downed power lines.
Officials in Port Vila say there is no power or running water in Vanuatu’s capital.
There are reports of entire villages being destroyed in more remote areas, according to Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer.
“It’s still really quite dangerous outside. Most people are still hunkering down,” she 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.”
Australia is preparing to send a crisis response team to Vanuatu if needed, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.
“There are destructive winds, rain, flooding, landslides, sea surges and very rough seas and the storm is exceedingly destructive there,” she said.
“We are still assessing the situation, but we stand ready to assist.”
The cyclone has already destroyed some homes and caused damage to other Pacific islands including Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.
Authorities earlier issued red alerts across Vanuatu, with residents warned to take shelter ahead of potential flooding and landslides.
David Gibson, acting director at the Vanuatu Meteorological Services, said: “As far as I can remember, this is the first Category Five cyclone to come very close to Vanuatu.
“This is obviously a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us.”