Expired News - Government officials say at least 29 Canadians in Vanuatu when Cyclone Pam hit - The Weather Network
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The leader of the small Pacific nation pleads for aid after the powerful cyclone devastated the islands.

Government officials say at least 29 Canadians in Vanuatu when Cyclone Pam hit


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    Daniel Martins
    Digital Reporter

    Monday, March 16, 2015, 8:21 PM - At least 29 Canadian citizens were in Vanuatu when Cyclone Pam slammed Vanuatu, the Deputy of Foreign Affairs said Monday.

    The storm lashed the islands over the weekend with torrential rain and wind speeds up to 300 km/h, the equivalent of a Category 5 storm.

    The country's president, Baldwin Lonsdale, said 90 per cent of the buildings in the capital Port Vila, had been damaged or destroyed.

    "I term it as a monster, a monster," he told media. "It's a setback for the government and for the people of Vanuatu. After all the development that has taken place, all this development has been wiped out."

    The death toll of eight may be conservative, as the widespread destruction and damage to infrastructure and communications has made it difficult for rescuers to penetrate the archipelago's more remote areas. 

    United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said as many as 44 people were reported dead in some of Vanuatu's outer islands, although that report had not been confirmed.

    Lonsdale has pleaded with the international community for aid, as many of the country's inhabitants have been forced into temporary shelter.

    Thousands of people are in urgent need of food and water, along with medical care, as the capital's medical facilities have been damaged as well.

    UNICEF estimates more than 50,000 children have been affected by the disaster in some way.

    "The scale of humanitarian need will be enormous and the proud people of Vanuatu are going to need a lot of help to rebuild their homes and their lives," Colin Collet van Rooyen, Oxfam Country Director, said Monday.

    SOURCES: BBC | CBC | NPR

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