Cyclone Pam swept through the Vanuatu archipelago last weekend causing widespread destruction and claiming the lives of many islanders. Tim Nelson is a director with Save the Children and he told reporters on Monday that the cyclone had damaged more than 40,000 homes and affected up to 150,000 people.
The category four cyclone initially struck Vanuatu just before midnight on Friday. Winds were recorded as high as 168mph on Saturday. In the capital city of Port Vila, almost no house was left unscathed by the storm and residents have been trying to rescue their belongings from buildings that have been almost completely destroyed.
Mr Nelson stated initial estimates put the number of houses which were no longer fit for human habitation at 15,000. Oxfam officials were on hand before the storm hit and they have since been joined by military personnel and aid workers from Australia, New Zealand and France.
Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale was in Japan when Pam struck. He told reporters that he had been unable to contact his family to ensure they were safe. He called the cyclone a monster and said the island’s residents had never seen anything as bad as this.
President Lonsdale continued by saying Cyclone Pam had destroyed infrastructure and development on the Vanuatu islands. He blamed the hurricane on global warming and climate change. He expounded by saying that in recent years the southern region of the Pacific Ocean had witnessed rising sea levels, bigger waves and increasingly heavier rainfall.
Vanuatu is not the only Pacific location to allege climate change is a problem in this part of the world. Other nations have also stated they believe they will be the first casualties of changing weather. Scientists and meteorologists claim there is no proof yet that climate change triggers hurricanes.