Vanuatu devastated by Cyclone Pam, President Lonsdale calls for immediate foreign helpRaymond Billings (Author) Published Date : Mar 16, 2015 10:06 IST
The humanitarian need is immediate, we need it right now, said President Baldwin Lonsdale of Vanuatu following a large-scale storm incident that destroyed several parts of his country over the weekend. After all the development we have done for the last couple of years and this big cyclone came and just destroyed all the infrastructure the government has built. Completely destroyed.
Vanuatu was hit by Cyclone Pam over the weekend when the President Lonsdale was away attending a storm preparedness conference in Japan, and according to him, More than 90% of buildings have been destroyed.
Identified as a category five storm with winds of up to 300 km/h or 185 mph, the storm devastated parts of the populated areas after it hit the nation early Saturday around +11 GMT local time. The storm is reported to have wiped out significant developments that the government had achieved over the years and it might have to start rebuilding everything again.
Eight people were reported to have lost their lives to the unfortunate incident, but this number is expected to rise when communication is established with other remote islands that make up the archipelago; since the storm destroyed communication systems and rendered several parts inaccessible. This incident is reported to be the worst to have ever occurred at this region in recent years.
Jon Donnison of the BBC reported in capital Port Vila that almost every house is affected by the natural disaster, and that the situation is surely very bleak for many people. Most of the houses had their roofs torn away or flattened out by powerful winds and torrential rains that hit the region, and according to President Lonsdale, this unfortunate incident is surely a result of changing weather patterns considering the fact that the region had been witnessing rising sea levels and heavy rains in recent times.
Alice Clements, a UNICEF worker in Port Vila said the major bridge connecting Port Vila to the eastern part of the island appeared as if it had a huge bite taken out of it. This isn't just some rickety bridge, it's made of concrete and steel, and now there's just steel girders sticking out. It really shows the sheer force of the storm.
Australia and New Zealand have already responded to Vanuatuan president s call for international assistance at rebuilding his storm-devastated country, and they have sent planes with humanitarian supplies and other necessities for affected regions.
The United Nations reveals that Vanuatu is one of the poorest and underdeveloped countries of the world, with a GDP of $828 million or 560.7 million compared to neighboring Australia's $1.56 trillion. About two-thirds of the population earns their living from agricultural activities and fishing, and about 70% of the 250,000 population live on about 60 remote islands that make up the archipelago with very limited access to transportation, electricity, and clean drinking water among other basic services.
Vanuatu devastated by Cyclone Pam, President Lonsdale calls for immediate foreign help