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Cyclone Pam: US$29.9 million needed urgently to address most pressing needs

21 Mar 2015

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Vanuatu, March 2015 - A state of emergency was declared after the Pacific island nation was hit by a cyclone. Just days after cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, people are cleaning up the trees and starting to rebuild their homes and lives. Houses are flatten, even concrete structures are damaged. (Credit: Australian Red Cross)
 
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The death toll in Vanuatu from Tropical Cyclone Pam stands at 16 while nearly 4,000 people are currently sheltering in 39 evacuation centres in and around Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila.

The death toll in Vanuatu from Tropical Cyclone Pam stands at 11 while nearly 4,000 people are currently sheltering in 39 evacuation centres in and around Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila, according to Vanuatu’s National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

The government says a large but unknown number of people without shelter are also being hosted by families and communities. According to the latest Situation Report (No.6), an estimated 166,000 people are affected including 82,000 children in one of the poorest nations in the world.

A Government-led response and distribution plan is due to be finalised today. Once endorsed, relief distributions in all affected communities will be overseen and coordinated by state authorities. In preparation for relief distribution, the Vanuatu Government has authorized the transport of emergency relief supplies to the provinces and a standardized package of assistance is currently being identified.

Priority needs emerging from assessments to date include WASH, particularly potable water, food, shelter and health. Agricultural experts estimate that the most vulnerable populations could run out of food in less than one week.

The Government of Vanuatu says it urgently needs an initial investment of no less than US$29.9 million of financial aid to purchase goods and ship them to the most affected islands. It is expected a Flash Appeal will be launched shortly to support ongoing response operations.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Tropical Cyclone Pam was one of the most powerful storms to ever make land fall in the Pacific and was comparable in intensity to Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in November 2013.

The cyclone struck Vanuatu (population 267,000), affecting the capital of Port Vila, as a category 5 cyclone on the evening of 13 March. The cyclone’s eye passed close to Efate Island, where the capital is located, and winds were estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking at around 320kmph.

Government and aid agency operations continue to face considerable logistical difficulties, especially in terms of reaching remote islands of the archipelago, which spans more than 12,000 square kilometres (4,700 square miles).