World Vision Responding to Cyclone Pam

International humanitarian agency World Vision is assisting communities in Vanuatu in responding to Cyclone Pam.

Vanuatu was bracing for a powerful hit Friday 13 March after the cyclone was upgraded to Category Five. The eye of the cyclone is expected to be 145 kilometres east of the capital Port Vila at approximately 8pm today as the system moves in a south-easterly direction between Vanuatu and Fiji. Category Five systems can have sustained wind speeds of up to 270kph and gusts of 325kph. It is expected the system will cause damaging winds, flooding rain and dangerous sea conditions.

The Vanuatu National Disaster Management Authorities are currently placing at risk 262,000 people throughout areas affected by the cyclone. Port Vila has a population of about 44,000.

World Vision Vanuatu Country Director Michael Wolfe said World Vision had relief items ready to go in Port Vila and on Santo Island in the north, while on Tanna Island, the World Vision team had been able to pre-position water and essential food items for the immediate aftermath of the cyclone.

Relief items included tarpaulins, blankets and hygiene, shelter and kitchen kits.

“The communities we work with have been advised of the threat, and are preparing for the cyclone,” Mr Wolfe said.

Some 15 communities on Santo Island are part of World Vision’s Community Based Disaster Risk Management project which has equipped people to prepare and respond to natural disasters. World Vision Vanuatu’s Disaster Management team has been on standby since the weekend. The aid and development agency is working closely with the Vanuatu Government and the Vanuatu Humanitarian Team, an NGO co-ordination body.

Solomon Islands has also felt the impact of Cyclone Pam with the islands of Malaita, Makira and Temotu experiencing gale force winds. World Vision Solomon Islands is liaising with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in Honiara which is co-ordinating relief goods from various humanitarian agencies.

Over coming days, as Tropical Cyclone Pam moves further south, Tropical Cyclone Nathan, now located in the Coral Sea as a Category 2 cyclone, is expected to intensify and turn towards Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and possibly Vanuatu.

For interviews with World Vision staff in Vanuatu, including sat phone, contact:

Stuart Rintoul on 0407 241 492 (+61 407 241 492)

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