CYCLONE PAM, a category-five storm that hit Vanuatu on Friday and Saturday, destroyed homes, roads, power, and water supplies, and killed 24 people. The death toll is, however, expected to rise when communication is re-established between all 83 islands. In more remote areas, entire villages are said to have been wiped out by the tropical storm.
Oxfam country director in Vanuatu’s capital, Colin Collet van Rooyen, explained to The New York Times that “Vanuatu has a cyclone season, but local residents say they have never experienced anything like this.” The winds reached up to 250km/h (150mph) and destroyed 90% of the buildings in the country’s capital.
According to The Guardian, “The island nation […] has repeatedly warned that it is suffering devastating effects from climate change as its coastal areas are washed away, forcing people to resettle on higher ground. Port Vila is considered to be the city most exposed to natural disasters in the world: as well as cyclones, it faces risks of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods.” With warmer temperatures, storm are getting more intense and extreme weather events are happening more frequently.
Australia has sent several military planes with supplies and aid workers to the islands and has pledged $5 million in support. New Zealand also pledged $2 million.
If you would like to contribute to the international effort to provide emergency relief to the people of Vanuatu, you can make a donation to Oxfam Australia.