Vanuatu Winds, Sea Surge ‘Felt Like the End of the World’
Aid began reaching the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu yesterday, after Cyclone Pam brought winds of up to 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour and eight-metre (26-foot) sea surges, swept away entire villages, leveled an estimated 90% of the homes in the capital, Port Vila, contaminated wells with seawater, and destroyed subsistence crops on which the population of 267,000 depends.
Early reports confirmed eight people dead and listed another 44 unconfirmed deaths. But with communications down across Vanuatu’s 83 islands, the toll was expected to rise as relief workers reached outlying areas.
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People who lived through the cyclone said it felt like the end of the world.
“I can say that for anybody who wasn’t in a secure shelter last night, it would have been a very, very tough time for them,” World Vision Emergency Communications Officer Chloe Morrison told AP.
“This is going to need a long and sustained response. People in Vanuatu are subsistence farmers. They grow food for their own consumption. Crops will be absolutely wiped out from this.”
UNICEF estimated 54,000 children were affected by the storm. The immediate threats to the population include food and water shortages and disease, according to news reports.