Aid workers rushed to Vanuatu Sunday after the wrath of Cyclone Pam subsided. The fatal storm system flattened buildings, annihilating any structure that was not made of concrete, Reuters reported.
Eight people were confirmed dead as a result of the storm, at least 30 were injured and thousands are left without shelter, food and water. But the numbers are expected to rise as aid workers sift through the debris cluttering streets and poisoning the water.
"Homes have been lost, crops are destroyed. The damage is enormous, and people need our help," Aurelia Balpe, head of the Red Cross in the Pacific, told CNN. "Yet it will still take some time before we really understand the full extent of the damage."
For now, exact numbers are not known, but it’s estimated 100,000 people are homeless and 90 percent of the homes in the capital, Port Vila, have been decimated. Unicef Australia tweeted nearly 54,000 children need assistance.
— UNICEF Australia (@unicefaustralia) March 14, 2015
The widespread destruction led President Baldwin Lonsdale to call the storm a “monster." Several countries have offered a helping hand: Australia donated $5 million in assistance, New Zealand gave $2.5 million and Britain pledged $2 million.
Australia also offered to send enough supplies for 5,000 people. "We will also be deploying humanitarian supplies to provide support for up to 5,000 people in the form of water, sanitation and shelter," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said, Reuters reported.
After the state of emergency was declared in Vanuatu, Prime Minister Joe Natuman thanked Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the offered aid. “Prime Minister Natuman thanked the Australian government and people for their assistance,” a statement from Abbott’s office revealed. “He advised that Vanuatu had declared a state of emergency to enable its national disaster management office to get on with the recovery task.”
Tropical Cyclone Pam was a Category 5 cyclone that had gusts of winds more than 185 mph.
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