Update: Cyclone Pam Devastates Vanuatu, 8 Confirmed Dead
Image courtesy of BOM Australia
Residents of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu took shelter as Tropical Cyclone Pam struck Saturday, leaving eight confirmed dead and 20 injured, numbers expected to rise considerably, Weather.com reported.
Tom Skirrow, country director of Save the Children Australia, described the complete devastation in Port Vila to the BBC, "People are wandering the streets looking for help." A number of homes were destroyed in Vanuatu's capital city.
The 80-plus island chain, located about 1,200 miles northeast of Brisbane, Australia was hit by winds at a sustained 165 mph, and the storm track took these most intense winds toward a large number of the nation’s inhabitants.
"As feared, the center of Pam tracked further west than what was originally forecast, bringing the full fury of this Category 5 cyclone's eyewall to the most populated areas of Vanuatu, including its capital, Port Vila," said Weather.com meteorologist Jon Erdman. "Severe storm surge flooding has occurred in vulnerable coastal areas. The extreme winds destroyed poorly-constructed structures and damaged others. Torrential rainfall triggered flash flooding and may trigger landslides.”
Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer, told the Associated Press of collapsed roofs, uprooted trees and downed power lines strewn across Port Vila's streets. She also relayed reports of remote villages being completely destroyed. Morrison also said Port Vila lacked power and running water, stating "It's still quite dangerous outside. Most people are still hunkering down. 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." It will be some time before the full story is told, as communications systems are down for those outlying locales.
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