Response to "catastrophic" cyclone Pam underway in Vanuatu

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President of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, speaking at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Pacific Humanitarian Team of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is responding to what it called the "catastrophic impacts of a devastating cyclone" in Vanuatu.

During the last two days, cyclone PAM has affected most of the island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean.

OCHA said the severe category 5 cyclone slammed into Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila, on the evening of 13 March.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

A disaster of this magnitude has not been experienced by Vanuatu in recent history, according to OCHA.

Winds are estimated to have reached 250kmph with gusts peaking even higher, causing damage to infrastructure, impacting services such as electricity and leaving debris spread across the capital.

Meanwhile, representatives from 186 governments are at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

A new framework to reduce the risk of disasters, such as this one, is expected to be adopted.

Vanuatu's President, Baldwin Lonsdale, told the gathering that his country's "hope for prospering into the future has been shattered". 

"I'm speaking with you today with a heart that is so heavy. I do not really know what impact cyclone Pam has left on Vanuatu as there are no confirmed reports as of yet."

The head of OCHA's regional office for the Pacific, Sune Gudnitz, said the Pacific Humanitarian Team is ready to support the government-led response.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1'07"

 

 

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