Aid Starting To Reach Vanuatu After Cyclone Pam

Aid is finally reaching the remote parts of Vanuatu, after Tropical Cyclone Pam devastated the island nation. Relief workers have been forging ahead through the country, gaining access to places such as the island of Tanna, which had been hit by the eye of the storm. An aid plane reached Tanna on Wednesday with food and fresh water, and a ferry is expected to ship more supplies from the capital, Port-Vila, to the island on Thursday.

Communications between Vanuatu’s various islands, comprising a total national population of 267,000, is limited due to cellphone towers being destroyed. Air surveillance making rounds of the islands noted several large H letters written on the ground to signal for help on the island of Ambrym, and people on Tongoa were using mirrors to reflect light as a distress signal. Most of the islands do not have a landing strip for airplanes, or if they do the strips are small and currently filled with debris.

The view from relief workers has been grim. In a statement Charlie Damon, CARE International’s Vanuatu manager, said “Decimation is the only word for what has happened here.” In particular she noted that Tanna is completely wiped of its typical greenery. Calling it a “grave situation”, Damon worried about the number of people without fresh water and shelter.

Crops have also been destroyed, which is what is causing great worry. In a statement Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said “Not only buildings [were] flattened — palm plantations, [and] trees.”

Vanuatu is comprised of 83 islands, making the dispatch of aid difficult. The official death toll is at 11, with 3,300 Ni-Vanuatu homeless, and the numbers are expected to rise. Australia has set out surveillance teams to help in the relief effort, and what they noted has been largely negative, such as nearly all housing on Tanna having been destroyed.

In a statement Australia’s defense minister, Kevin Andrews, said that 20 doctors have left Australia from the town of Darwin on Wednesday to help the sick and injured. Manpower is also being sent from France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Aid Starting To Reach Vanuatu After Cyclone Pam - Clapway