Cyclone Pam, with winds of up to 170 mph, has devastated the south Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu. Cornwall-based ShelterBox is mobilising a response team, and already has aid in the region.
The Pacific paradise of Vanuatu, a little over 1,000 miles north east of Australia, has been battered by Cyclone Pam, a tropical storm with maximum wind speeds of 170mph. There are already reports of eight known deaths, but aid agencies on the scene expect numbers of fatalities to run into dozens.
Unicef Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn in New Zealand has warned that ‘Early reports are indicating that this weather disaster could potentially be one of the worst in Pacific history.’ Unicef spokeswoman Alice Clements described the cyclone as ‘15-30 minutes of absolute terror’ as it passed over Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila.
The archipelago is made up of 82 islands, 65 of which are inhabited, and there are concerns for people in remote locations. Vanuatu's president Baldwin Lonsdale said he had a ‘heavy heart’ and has appealed for aid.
Disaster relief agency ShelterBox, which provides highly portable emergency shelter and equipment for families displaced by natural catastrophes, has its people and aid poised to help.
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator Phil Duloy is at the charity’s HQ in Helston. He says, ‘We have contacted the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Vanuatu government, colleague charity CARE International, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International.’
‘All are aware of ShelterBox's capability and willingness to respond to any unmet shelter needs generated by the cyclone. ShelterBox stands ready to act quickly to deliver prepositioned emergency materials that we have available in the region’.