Unexpected destruction happened hours ago in the Pacific region as Cyclone Pam turned out to be much stronger than expected.
The Super Tropical Cyclone Pam has hammered little island Vanuatu in past hours. The storm has reach peak winds of 250 to 270kmph with gusts of up to 340kmph. This is one of the worst tropical storms that hit the region in years.
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UNICEF Pacific Communications Specialist Alice Clements said in a statement "It is clear that the full force of Super Cyclone Pam is dramatically worse than had been initially predicted. This will most certainly be a catastrophe for the people of Vanuatu. I saw the sliding doors from my three storied hotel room completely blow away - it was terrifying. We have some very unconfirmed reports of casualties from the outer islands as well but we're waiting to get official confirmation on those, which is very sad news if it's true.”
UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director, Vivien Maidaborn followed up in another statement saying that “While it is too early to say for certain, early reports are indicating that this weather disaster could potentially be one of the worst in Pacific history. The sheer force of the storm combined with communities just not set up to withstand it, could have devastating results for thousands across the region."
UNICEF New Zealand has launched an emergency appeal for the children of Vanuatu. You can donate to support children and families in Vanuatu when they need it most on this UNICEF page.
Alice Clements has posted a very personal video from the peak of the Cyclone. Watch below.
The devastation of the Vanuatu island becomes clear seeing photos from the aftermath. The details of casualties and the extend of damage just start to come in from Vanuatu.
UNICEF has a live blog here.
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Vanuatu is a poor island with about 200,000 inhabitants. The majority of the buildings are not storm proof. The island state with capital Port Vila has a size of 4,710 sq miles. Vanuatu is 1,090 miles east of northern Australia, 310 miles northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. The Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980.