Cyclone Pam Batters Vanuatu, 4 Confirmed Dead [VIDEO]

By @vitthernandez on
Cyclone Pam
IN PHOTO: Cyclone Pam bears down on Vanuatu in this image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite taken at 1:30 p.m. local time (2:20 GMT) March 13, 2015. Not long after the image was acquired, the storm struck the island of Efate, which is home to Vanuatu's capital city, Port Vila. Winds of up to 250 kilometres an hour (155 mph) ripped metal roofs off houses and downed trees in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu on Saturday, as relief agencies braced for a major rescue operation and unconfirmed reports said dozens had already died. Reuters

Cyclone Pam battered Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, on Friday, the 13th. The cyclone destroyed many homes, while dozens are believed to have died from the story.

The Wall Street Journal reports that at least four are confirmed dead based on the report of Mishael Garaelulu, spokesman of the National Disaster Management Office. He said police search and rescue teams are deployed to find if there are more dead islanders.

According to the Australian Red Cross, the island’s humanitarian requirements are enormous as people need shelter, food and water, reports CNN. World Vision, which had been based in the island for over 30 years, said its emergency assessment team would go out and survey the extent of the damage when it is already safe.

Chloe Morrison, the emergency communications director of World Vision, shared that seven hours had passed and it is still not safe to leave their house.

The cyclone dumped more than 9 inches of rain in Port Vila in 36 hours. With its wind gusts of up to 190 mph, Pam is the strongest storm to make a landfall in Oceania since Super Storm Haiyan battered the Philippines in November 2013, said the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The center said the cyclone had weakened from a Category 5 hurricane to Category 4. It is forecast to move southeastward and is expected to pass on Sunday east of New Zealand into Monday. Residents of North Island, including Auckland, are warned that it could bring heavy rainfall.

UNICEF Australia said Pam, one of the strongest storms in the South Pacific in years, directly hit Port Vila and raised fears of mass destruction. Since the capital city sits on the coastline, it is vulnerable to storm surges when powerful cyclones hit Vanuatu.

Vanuatu is made up of 83 small islands, but most of the isles lack infrastructure as well as strong housing structures to withstand super typhoons. Charity organisations have advised residents to move to shelters such as churches, universities and schools which are made of concrete.

Before Pam hit Vanuatu, it damaged the neighbouring Pacific island-nations of Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.  Tuvalu declared state of emergency, while Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman is expected to declare also one later in the day.

To contact the writer, email: v.hernandez@ibtimes.com.au

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